Reflections on “Solo” Shows – Part One

My father was in town yesterday for less than 24 hours.  I picked him up from the airport and we had a leisurely late lunch at the Shapiro’s Restaurant in Carmel.  I had my iPhone with me so I read my father the email I had received the previous day from Millicent Wright at the Indiana Repertory Theatre.  She had forwarded it from Diane Timmerman at Butler University.

The original email described the show and said:

Subject: Free Performances of London Actor Tim Hardy’s Galileo: Tues Sept 8 & Wed Sept 9

Dear Indy Theatre Friends,

We have one of London’s great actors with us this semester and are pleased to offer his fantastic, new one-man show, Galileo, to the Indy community for free.  Watching him play this role is truly a lesson in acting.

Come see this fascinating and funny 75-minute show this coming Tues or Wed at 7pm, chat with Tim afterwards, and walk over with us to the observatory to see Jupiter.  How cool is that? It’s going to be a great evening!

“This show was offered last spring,” I told my father, “And I couldn’t get to it.  But it sounds interesting, don’t you think?”

My father agreed, and told me about a book he had read recently about Galileo. 

I said I would call to make a reservation when we got home.  “Oh, wait,” I said. “I have a cell phone now.”  (This is still bizarre to me.)  “I’ll call from here.”

So I called, but the recorded message said the show was sold out.  We talked about going to a movie instead, but what we ended up doing was just going back to my house to relax.  We talked about some of the family photos that I have on display and about the trees in each of our yards.  And we read novels – a Jonathan Kellerman mystery for my father and a spy novel called Trust No One for me.   I also moved my laptop into the living room and updated my “About the blog” page while my father read his book.  I loved just hanging out with my father.  I also look forward to spending time with him and other family members later this month and next.

This morning, after my father left, I logged on and checked Lou Harry’s Arts and Entertainment blog on the recently renovated Indianapolis Business Journal website.  “Hey!” I thought. “Lou saw ‘Galileo’!  Yay!” 

I am not crazy about the new IBJ website, but I always love reading “Lou’s Views” on shows.  He loved “Galileo.”  Read for yourself here.

Then Lou asked his readers:

Do you feel that these minimalist shows — the IRT is presenting three of them later in the season — should have the same ticket price as fuller-cast productions?

My response:  Of course.  Quality has nothing to do with the number of people on stage, and there is actually no such thing as a one-person show.

John Leguizamo recently tried out his new one-man show here. Mike Bribiglia, who scored an off-Broadway hit with his “Sleepwalk With Me” will be in town next week. What is the line between a stand-up act and a one-person play?

My response:  The rhythm is different.  Stand-up is “joke, joke, joke…”  A one-person play is “Once upon a time…and then something or someone changed.”

Mind you, I feel most satisfied as an audience member when a stand-up routine has a narrative arc, and I love plays that make me laugh.

Indy Fringe and Storytelling Arts have presented many one-person monologists locally. Is storytelling the same as theater?

No, but they overlap.  Storytellers and actors can learn from each other’s skills and training. 

Actually, I could write a book on this last question but it’s time for me to get ready to go to my day job.  More later…  (and thanks for asking the questions, Lou.)

Hope Baugh – www.IndyTheatreHabit.com

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