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    Posted April 29, 2010

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From One Conversation a Workshop Grows

By Diane Dorsey

Membership Ed Committee Members Ron Keaton, Carrie Lee Patterson, Diane Dorsey, Alma Washington, (not pictured-Mark David Kaplan) and Kathryn Lamkey, Central Regional Director.

Because actors usually rely on general auditions or agent submissions, and forever hope past employers will call, they don't usually think about creating their own work. So when several on our Membership Education Committee learned they were each into the solo process, two questions got asked: "who else is?" and "who else wants to know how?"

The seed was planted and five months later on February 27th the first AEA sponsored Solo Performance Workshop/Seminar was held at the Theatre Building in Chicago. Moderator Ron Keaton guided a professional panel comprised of performer/educators Tom Mula, Stephanie Shaw, Arlene Malinowski; A Red Orchid Theatre Artistic Director Kirsten Fitzgerald; director/writer/producer Kevin Theis; marketing maven Noreen Heron; and AEA Business Representative Luther Goins.

This eclectic group covered 5 basic categories: 1) "The Idea and Process" -- getting started, how to stay committed, using developmental support. 2) "Choosing the Genre" -- source materials such as autobiographical, historical personas, literary adaptation. 3) "The Collaborators" - hiring the right director, designers, musicians, and (if needed) an editor. 4) "Producing Issues" -- the best venue, finding the money, marketing, whether or not to self-produce. And most importantly, 5) "Doing it Equity" -- types of contracts or agreements and procedures for members to follow. A lively Q & A stimulated even more topics. Plus the piece de resistance: Arlene Malinowski inspired all with an excerpt from her show "What Does the Sun Sound Like."

In addition to the panel presentation, promotional materials (flyers, postcards, dvd's, marketing portfolios) were displayed. Handouts on funding sources, developmental workshops, marketing tips, and recommended readings for creating original work were made available. Plus, Luther Goins made sure everyone received copies of appropriate contracts and agreements. Of course no actor-event is complete without a free raffle, some Equity swag, and good food. By day's end the event provided a wealth of information on how to create work that has income potential. And it was a perfect opportunity for self-generating artists to discover a supportive community.

Because we had no idea where and who the solo performers were, notices were posted on the Website and in the Newsletter, emailed to Liaison cities, tacked on callboards, Facebooked, LinkedIn, and mentioned at first rehearsals. All we could do was spread the word…then see who might come. AND COME THEY DID! 75 Equity members showed up to ask questions, take notes, and share their creative experiences. How-to-do-it-calls even came in from St. Louis, the Twin Cities, and LA.

So what happens now? Maybe a follow-up workshop, or weekly writing group, or monthly Open Mic, or In-Home Salon? Not to worry. I think our members will let us know what they want next. And that's as good as it gets!

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