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Solo Performance with Kevin Joyce

Solo Performance with Kevin Joyce

I’m delighted to be teaching Solo Performance at Freehold this spring.

I’ve been at this professionally for over 30 years and I still marvel at it, I still quake before going on. And I’m still trying to figure out what makes it work. And that’s what the class will explore.

It’s exciting, terrifying, bewildering, empowering and crazy-making to perform alone. By yourself, on stage, just you to make sense of the space and time of it all, the dynamics, arc, and quality of connection to the moment. Who thought this would be a good idea? 

As performers, we go on stage, it’s our thing, our job. And most of the time, we nail it, because we work at it, we rehearse the bejeezus out of it, we bring craft and tenacity and cojones and whatever we got on that day, we connect with the people in the room and on stage, and we just do it. And sometimes, for reasons we may not even be able to articulate, we kill it. 

And sometimes it kills us. For me, maybe once every fifty performances or events, I’ll just have a dreadful show. My timing is off or I’m just not listening well, or some nasty ego bug has infested my performance and I’m just somewhere else. And it’s a soul-sucking experience. 

Most of the time when actors perform, thank God, there are other people on stage! But when you’re performing alone, it’s all on you. I’ve managed to create a career where I do a lot of solo performance. Again, who thought this was a good idea?

It wasn’t always this way. I co-founded UMO, and much of my training roots are in ensemble work, both in the creative process, and in every moment on stage. When I was younger, choral singing was a passion, and the last thing you want is to stand out as an individual voice – unless of course you’re a soloist. 

Solo performance in theater is a beast unto itself. And it’s the most intensely challenging and rewarding work I know. 

If you are a solo creator and performer, or if you’re interested in exploring solo performance as a form, come join us. We will create a vessel in which original solo work will be written, choreographed, poked at, tried out, iterated, stretched and compressed.

I’ll bring techniques from Ruth Zaporah improv training, proprioceptive writing, silent clown and vocal work. Each class will provide a chance to show a short bit of material, get feedback, and work in a laboratory of short-form creation through the exploration of movement, writing, blocking, stillness, silence. And screaming too, if that helps.

I’ll share tools I’ve used in created my solo work, on stage as an actor, in Teatro Zinzanni, as a singer/songwriter, and event host. We’ll share what we’re trying to do, whether we actually have anything developed or not. The main thing we will develop is the sense of our own voice: what is your instrument, and how do you play?

The class will be intense, very focused, and a lot of fun, promise. We’ll be looking for, and finding, that thing that makes performance such an incredible art form, that quality of presence and clarity and focus, the you-could-hear-a-pin-drop moments. And appreciating, above all, what it is that makes the ancient craft of solo performance such a wild and sacred undertaking

It’s also the easiest kind of performance – no throwing focus, no upstaging, no waiting (or as we used to say it “…bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, MY LINE…”.