Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Writing the Solo Show, Pt. 7: Show it to a friend

I’m getting to that point and maybe you are, too.  You’ve been working in a vacuum for a long time, creating pages and pages of material.  Some of it could be crap but you have a sneaking suspicion that some of it is quite good.  

But how do you know?

It’s probably time to enlist the help of a friend. 

And by friend, I mean someone who can give you honest, critical feedback.  This should be preferably someone with a performance, theatre, or writing background.  Not your mother (she loves everything you do).  Not your spouse (need a more subjective and outsider eye).  Not someone who is in competition with you or finds ways of demoralizing you (who needs that?). 

(If you don’t have any friends, maybe you should hire a dramaturg.)

By the way, bribery in the form of buying a coffee, beer or taking them out to dinner is a perfectly acceptable form of coercion.  People are motivated by rewards and are more likely to help you if they know you are grateful, which you should be.

Make sure when you send off the pages, even if it's just a small amount, that you give the friend some context.  Define your objectives for the piece and say, this is where I’m heading, what you do think?  Even if you don’t know for sure, tell them and see if they agree.  The more specific you are with what you want to know about your work, the more specific your feedback. 

This is the first baby step towards the end goal of communicating something to an audience.  Your aim should always be to remain truthful to your own vision, but remember, you have to communicate that vision to others.  This person can help you do that.

Also, give yourself a date—I will email you pages by (blank) and let’s go out for coffee and talk about it on (blank).  Define the expectations for both of you.  The deadline keeps you motivated and accountable.

Don't just sit around waiting for the feedback.  Get back to work.

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