I have a one-woman show.
I worked hard on it. I’m proud of it. It’s pretty far from perfect, but it’s a fully formed performance. Original theatrical works often undergo substantial changes between runs, and I can definitely imagine places I’d want to re-work for theoretical future iterations of this performance. But it’s a thing. It’s nearing completion.
I think there are some good, articulate thoughts in it. Not, like, all of them. But enough.
I had a really good interview Monday, with someone who really got what I was trying to say. It was such an immense relief to hear someone else not only echoing sentiments I had made but building on them, contributing new thoughts (“It’s like this… and what about this… and isn’t it interesting that…”) and the fact that we could generate conversational momentum together on my weird little show was delightful. I walked out of the interview thinking that maybe this is a good, relevant thing I’m putting together.
And I had a friend email me yesterday– she’s pretty much been a cheerleader/critical mind/brilliant supportive person since this show was a fraction of a Masters dissertation two years ago– telling me how excited she was, and the excitement of other people coming to the show with her.
Marketing this shit is hard.
This isn’t new, and it’s something our theatre wrestles with often. You don’t have title recognition (“Oh, West Side Story – I know that one”), and I’m not particularly famous (“Ooh, Neil Patrick Harris”), and unless you have incredibly timely subject matter (“Ah, a geopolitical thriller about a shift in regimes”), there isn’t always a built in audience.
But on top of all that, my topic matter is just sort of funky and esoteric and hard to describe. And there’s not a clear, linear story to frame discussions around. “It’s about holy stuff. And travel. And… selfies… Wanna know more? Uh… well… come see the show!” I feel like I’m so bad at talking about this piece that it’s almost comical.
And despite feeling like I have nothing to say, I feel like I’ve done nothing but talk about myself (on Facebook, on the phone, in person, in my head) for weeks, and as someone who is pretty routinely filled with self-doubt/self-loathing, that’s a kind of uncomfortable place to be.
I’m anxious, like, all the time– about screwing something up, about people not coming to see the show, about people not liking the show, about the show not being good, about the show generating bad press, about the booth computer spontaneously combusting, and so on, and so on.
I say anxious, and of course what I really mean is scared. I want this to work, and I’m scared that it won’t.
This morning, my sister linked me a review of the Sunday in the Park with George revival that recently opened on Broadway. For those of you not familiar with the play, it’s this beautiful, rhapsodic love letter to the joys and pains of the artistic process. Unsurprisingly, the lyrics stick in my head this week.
“Stop worrying if your vision is new / Let others make that decision; they usually do”
At some point, during one of the many revisions of a marketing blurb for my show, someone suggested “solo work” rather than “one-woman show,” but I kind of prefer it as the latter. It’s not a huge distinction to make, but I think it’s worth making.
I’m trying to focus on being present. I’m trying to focus on the immeasurably supportive team I’ve got, running across the finish line with me.
And I am excited. And proud. And grateful. It’s just hard to focus on that when there’s so much worry, too.
Photography credit to the magical Mr. Dan Maher, level 10 camera wizard