For Those Actors Who Dont Know What Type of Solo Material They Want to Create

Some actors start off on a project knowing that they want to do a solo show, but they don't know what form or even what subject they'd like to explore. For those of you in this category, perhaps the following material will be of help.

Spend some time exploring, researching, opening yourself up to new ideas that may be fodder for your monologue. Take as long as you need for this research—a few weeks, months, whatever. You might also want to reread the earlier section in this book on keeping a journal. Keep the following thoughts in mind during your search:

There's no shortage of ideas; they're everywhere, all around us, all the time.

Keep an ongoing list of all possibilities for your piece. Don't be stingy; put down anything that comes to mind, no matter how ridiculous it may seem.

Become a people-watcher. Go to parks and malls. Noticing how and what people are communicating to each other can inform your work tremendously, especially if you decide to develop character monologues. As you watch people, listen to what they're saying; notice what they're not saying. Be aware of their body language, their movement, their rhythms, even their wardrobe.

Let your imagination run wild as you watch people. Ask yourself as many questions about them as you can think of. Who are they? Are they married? What do they do for a living? What is their family life like? What do you think their secrets are?

Other things that you can use to inform your work: music, theater, even TV. These may be things you've always been aware of, but now your perception, your intention, your focus, is different. Start to search your memory. Think about what your life has been like so far. Your memories can be of great value to you in this kind of work. Some of your stories may be very funny, some embarrassing, and some very painful. Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, and many other great playwrights created some of their greatest works based on actual events from their childhoods. One thing that certainly makes you different from anyone else is your personal memory, your past experience. Try to imagine what your future will be like. Think about what you'll be doing in ten years, in twenty-five years, or longer. Read works by other monologists. See what types of monologues personally interest you. If someone is performing a one-person show in your area, try to see it. Also, there are several one-person shows on videotape. Spalding Gray in Swimming to Cambodia and Julie Harris in The Belle of Amherst are just a couple.

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