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    Posted November 9, 2011

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Chicago
Flying Solo Workshop Wrap-up

By Diane Dorsey
Chair, Solo Workshop Committee

“Flying Solo” Workshop Wrap-up

“What I absolutely wanted and needed”…”5 out of 5 stars”…”top notch”…”I am lifted to the next step!” These are responses to Central Region's “Flying Solo” Workshop held October 15th at the Actors’ Equity Building where 27 members gathered for information and inspiration, as well a chance to meet more like-minded artists.

Facilitator Ron Keaton opened the event by asking each of us to describe our solo backgrounds and reasons for coming. A brilliant strategy that united the room, airing hopes and frustrations while putting faces on a growing community.

During this second workshop 5 actors performed pieces from shows in development. Kendall Zwillman, Scott Lee Heckman, Bernard Rice, John Green, and Debra Watassek presented work ranging from beginning-explorations to audience-ready-material. Which then spun into discussions that dovetailed with the program's topics: The Idea, Writing/Editing, Development/Collaborators, and Pre-production.

After each performance, professional coaches Dale Calandra and Eileen Vorbach offered “generous” feedback. While putting all at ease, they provided excellent insights, specific tools, and individual directions for the soloists to explore. In a Follow-Up Survey, members noted both coaches offered “keen guidance,” that was “safe for all levels,” “kind, but not wimpy,” “challenging when necessary.” One observed, “almost all the wisdom shared centered around live presentations and feedback. It was very organic…like a conversation.” Another wrote, “It was very inspiring to be in a room filled with such talented people and the wealth of information and resources provided…was invaluable.”

When asked about more workshops members suggested: A Producer Panel discussing the business side... Marketing and making money…Where’s the funding?...Get bookings—how and where?…How to publish so others can perform our shows...Bringing projects into schools...Practicalities of showcasing...An Equity Showcase Evening…Cabaret focus. All are excellent ideas for several future events.

Valuable Information taken from the workshop included --

“That I can do it. It’s not an impossible dream.” ”Gather the stories--the theme may emerge later.” “Know who my audience will be.” “Let ideas flow without self-criticism destroying the process.” “Great tips on memorizing.” ”Don’t censure your impulses.” ”Let an audience tell you what works.”

And “Valuable” out-of-towner thoughts …from Ohio, “I saw it (workshop advertised) in the Newsletter. It was a very valuable resource for me in this instance.” …from Michigan, “Hearing issues from people already engaged in the writing or producing their own material…seeing others’ work was helpful.” NYreturnee-- “My thanks to Actors’ Equity Association for providing me with the tools needed to manifest my own show. Please know I would like to see more workshops like this.”

(Comments in quotes are actual member responses from our Follow-Up Survey)

Many thanks to Outreach and Education Committee Members: Ron Keaton, Carrie Lee Patterson, Mark David Kaplan, Ira Carol, Michelle Shupe, and Alma Washington. Also to Chris Provost, Sr Business Rep, Central Region.

“Flying Solo Workshop is Boffo” - (Right to left) Ron Keaton, Debra Watassek, John Green, Dale Calandra, Eileen Vorbach, Bernard Rice, Kendall Zwillman, and Scott Lee Heckman.

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