Beginnings

I begin reading from a paper (perhaps in front of a mirror to create the sense that you are talking (perhaps rehearsing) to yourself).

The monologue—foundation of the solo performance—dates back to the very beginnings of theater starting with the world’s first storytellers or griots and proceeding to the ancient Greek Chorus and the Shakespearean soliloquy all the way up to the modern, contemporary and postmodern moments. It is allied to an increasing awareness of and interest in the individual and is sometimes celebrated as Brechtian and other times grudgingly acknowledged as just barely dramatic. Arguably, its emergence is a particularly American one. It is at once theater, aesthetic, ideology and philosophy.

WTF.

AAAAHHHHH! Did I just say that? What the hell does that even mean??? Pedantry. Academe-Speak. Theory-Horror.

Try again.

The solo performance also referred to as the monologue, the one-person (often really the one-MAN) show, the autoperformance, the documentary solo and as coined by Jill Dolan the monopolylogue; also bearing a striking resemblance to the extended soliloquy or aside.

AAAAHHHHH!!!! There you go listing as if to suggest the wonders of the performances through the numbers of titles to be given it.

Ok, maybe naming the form is important but WHERE OH WHERE is the LIFE, the ENERGY, the JOY, the HUMOR, the INSPIRATION, the URGENCY that each and every of the more than 60 (and counting) solo shows I’ve seen have given me??!!

Try again. Sit down in a cozy chair, maybe with a book in hand. Get comfortable.

I know. I’ll tell the story of the solo performance.

Once upon a time there was a female actress by the name of Ruth Draper who in the early twentieth century grew weary of the kinds of roles being offered to her and so she created character sketches and got up on stage and became those characters.

AAAHHH! Biography can’t help at a time like this. Why would anyone want a story about who these performers are? The point is to share the performers’ stories not tell the story of the performer!

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