Friday, December 14, 2012

Q-and-A with David Mogolov

David Mogolov                                                         from

I caught David Mogolov's show Dumber Faster at the New York International Fringe Festival last August. He and I were performing in the same venue. His show was funny, thoughtful and performed at a breakneck velocity. His presentation style echoes the Spaulding Gray/Mike Daisey approach (addressing the audience directly, as an audience, from behind a desk), but Mogolov definitely carves out his own idiosyncratic style. He is personable, professional and super-smart, but somehow is careful not to create the holier-than-thou distancing that can sometimes plague solo performers of the desk-and-talk style. He holds the subject he is exploring up and invites the audience to say "hey, you guys, just look at this..." right alongside him. 

He recently agreed to be interviewed for, and I'm so glad he did.


Q: Please give us a brief bio, where you are from and how you started in theatre/performance?

A: I'm from Iowa, but was raised largely in Kansas, and then I moved to Boston for college and never left town. Though I did a tiny bit of theater in high school, most of my stage time back then was as a particularly untalented musician. I was in a band that wasn't very good but had schtick that went up to 11. So when college ended and a friend of mine recommended that I audition for a play, I wasn't really scared of the stage, and I was too ignorant of theater to know how much I didn't know. At his recommendation, I auditioned for a production of As Bees In Honey Drown, and got cast. The production was in many respects a fiasco (I surely bear a big load of the blame), but we had a really great pair of leads, and it's also where I met a fellow cast member, Steve Kleinedler, who subsequently became one of my closest friends.

That was in the spring of 2001. That Thanksgiving, I had this truly bizarre odyssey home to Boston from visiting relatives in Virginia, and I kept telling the story to friends, and obsessing over it, until one night my friend Zabeth, who was at that time booking a new comedy night at ImprovBoston, said, "You should tell this story on stage." To which I said, "People do that?" I needed a director, so I called Steve. The show, One Night at T.F. Green, got good audiences, a fortuitous little bit of press, and a second run. 11 years later, Steve and I still work together on every show, and I think I finally know what I'm doing. He's directed 5 of my solo shows, a dueling-monologue show with Sara Faith Alterman, and we wrote, produced, and performed more sketch comedy than seems plausible, on reflection. 

Q: What event or desire brought you specifically into the world of solo performance?

A: My dad, my brothers, and I watched pretty much every stand up comedy special that aired on TV between 1986 and 1996. To me, it was the single greatest thing a person could do, but I have to admit it never crossed my mind to do it. Although I heard and understood the "you can be anything you want" messages as a child, I don't think I internalized them until I hit 30 or so, by which time we usually figure out it's too late. But yeah, at the core of what I do is that childhood and teenage adoration of stand up comedy. Particularly George Carlin. And a solo show by Steven Banks called "Home Entertainment System" which, if there were any justice in this world, would be an enormous hit that everybody knows.


Q: Could you tell us about some of your solo work?

A: Well, the first show, One Night at T.F. Green, was a mostly-true account of my night at the airport in Warwick, Rhode Island. I attempted to tell the story close to accurately, both in storytelling and through playing many of the people I met. Though I think it was a good show, and the audiences really liked it, it was also a huge opportunity for me to make some mistakes that I could learn from. Each show since has gotten better, and with the last two, There Is No Good News and Dumber Faster, I've found a style that seems to suit me.

Q: How would you describe your particular kind of solo performance?

A: I sometimes think of it as theatrical comedic essay. The best essays end up in places their sources don't obviously point to, and reading them is constantly surprising, but on reflection, it's all completely logical. That's what I try to do with my shows. I want to take the audience from a set of basic claims and observations to a place that is undeniably true but totally unexpected. So I start quietly, telling stories and talking about current events and psychology and economics, and I throw out more and more and more until it's a big interconnected mess, and then I pull it all together, because I honestly hate messes. I try to layer in the joke density of stand up comedy, so that all the way through the audience is laughing.

Q: What is your favorite thing about doing this work?

A: The first laugh of the show. That's my absolute favorite thing. It should arrive at a particular moment, and when it does, it's just fantastic. Nothing compares. Then I can stop worrying and lose myself in the show. 

Q: What inspires you to keep going and how do you keep yourself motivated?

A: Motivation is hard. I'm a procrastinator, but one wracked by guilt. I wish I could procrastinate without dread. As a practical matter, I motivate myself by setting deadlines and making them public. Even if nobody's really watching, announcing that I'll have a first draft by New Year's forces me to do it. The only thing that overpowers my laziness is my shame. So I have to do it.

As for inspiration, I guess there comes a point between shows where I've been reading, and listening to the radio, and hearing friends talk, and my brain catches on a little wrinkle, a bit of cognitive dissonance or a little warp in the logic of the universe that I keep coming back to. With There Is No Good News, it was this financial crisis that exposed deeper problems with how we live than we were acknowledging even in the depth of it. With Dumber Faster, it was the double life we live, the public and private selves, the way we're not acting in our own interest, and doing it so publicly. I get hooked on some idea, and I can't stop poking at it, and at some point I consciously realize that I've already got the core of a show. So then I set that public deadline.

Q: What is your approach to the development process when putting together a new project? Do you create a lot on stage, improvising? More on paper? Tape or video record? Hold readings? Go to a mountain top?

A: For starters, I can honestly say that I don't know what I think about something until I've tried to write my way through it. And that's true of these shows. While a ton of great stuff comes out of rehearsal, and new jokes get found on the stage, I'm am fundamentally a writer. I don't know any other way.

When I'm about to start a show, I tell Steve [
Kleinedler, the director], and I give him a date to expect a draft. Then I tweet it or put it on Facebook or something. When sit down to write, it's with that topic I'm struggling with, something that is fascinating and current, that allows me to be critical and self-critical, and that's broad enough to hook a lot of stories to. By the time I know "this is the one" I've already got one or two elements that I know are at the core of it, and I start with them, just writing without agenda. I write TERRIBLE first drafts. They're humorless rants with barely relevant anecdotes hooked onto them. But I beat that draft into a better shape, and then send it to Steve, who is the only person who sees those terrible drafts. And he gives me constructive advice. A lot of fundamental questions. He'll notice rhetorical patterns in the draft that I hadn't caught. We don't even read that one aloud, because it lacks anything like the cadence or humor I want to bring to the stage. I wait a couple weeks, and then go back to it with a fresh mind. The second draft is a gutting of that original. With Dumber Faster, I'd bet I deleted over half of it entirely, and the stuff that got cut wasn't without value, it just didn't fit around the new center of the show, which I think I've identified. Each subsequent draft for awhile moves that center, ties the pieces around it tighter, introduces new complexities and tries to resolve them. By draft seven or eight, Steve and I are reading weekly, and we then usually bring in a cold reader to read it to us. Then I gut it again, and build it up again. The stage version of Dumber Faster was 17. Between 7 and 17, we had one staged reading (draft 12). It's painful cutting scenes and jokes I like, but I've never looked back at an old draft and thought it was better. I know this process works for me.

Q: Who are some of your influences or people that inspire/embolden you?
A: Novelists and essayists. I'm rereading Myla Goldberg's Bee Season right now. That book is kicking my ass. The depth of the characters is incredible, and she has these little scenes that are seismic. A brother and sister sitting on a couch not talking. If I wrote that scene, it would be that last sentence, that sentence fragment. Hers is an atom bomb. 

Halfway through Dumber Faster, I started watching the British comic Stewart Lee. I watched what I could online and then bought everything I could of his from a record company in Wales, and while I don't think our styles are anything alike, your word "embolden" is completely apt. Everything I was just about to say, I now had to say. His shows are incredible

Q: How do you bridge the gap of the business side of theatre?

A: Oh man. I guess I bridge it by falling into the ravine. I have this dream of ending up in the black someday, but I'm a 9-to-5er. I'm fortunate to have made a career that is interesting and ethical with a company that gives me the flexibility to keep doing theater and comedy. I guess because I came to it slowly and without a plan, I've remained shocked that I get to do this at all, and so the fact that I'm woefully negligent in looking after my own business interests doesn't keep me up at night.

Q: Any advice for some aspiring artist just starting out in solo performance?

A: Two things come to mind: be ruthlessly honest with yourself and find a director or an advisor who will do the same. Most people will not tell you the truth, they will tell you what is easiest to say that will encourage you. Encouragement is valuable, but it doesn't push you to make good theater or comedy. Look at your own material the way you'd look at the work of a rival. Pick it apart. Write a scathing review of it in your mind. When you revise, when you rehearse, address those problems. Because you're not the only one who will think of them. You're just the only one who can do anything about them before it's too late.

The other thing I'd say is, if you're dealing with true stories, you don't have to tell every detail. Just because it's true doesn't mean it's theater. Pick the elements that make for good theater, and save the rest. If you stopped for lunch between the two critical events, you're not morally obligated to reveal the lunch. Your first obligation is to captivate, entertain, and challenge the audience. You can do that, ethically, without presenting a diary.

Q: Share with us something funny that has happened to you recently.

A: I have a sort of compulsive personality, and on a lark, I started writing fictional biographies of my friends on Facebook. It turned out to be a good writing exercise, and really fun, and one thing led to another, and six weeks later, I'd written 100 of them. I hadn't really intended to take on a new project like that at all, but because I'm an idiot with no time management skills, I wrote about 50,000 words of biography in less than two months, putting aside almost everything else. The response has been really positive, so I put them all on a site: Unauthorized Facebook Biography

Q: What do you see for the future of solo performance and for you personally as an artist?

A: More generally, I think everybody's ability to see anything and learn anything at any time will expose more people to solo performance and lead to a lot of technical innovation. We'll see a lot of spectacular weirdness. While it's harder than ever to do anything at a huge level, I see increasing opportunities to find rewarding and valuable communities in niches. Nothing has to be a hit to be viable. That's my hope. 

Personally, I'm starting another show. I've identified the topic I can't shake, so I'm just about to set a deadline and get to work. First though, I'm retiring Dumber Faster in grand style. The details are still getting worked out, but in March we're going to run it as a charity show for an awesome organization that still needs me to sign some paperwork before I should use their name publicly. We're going to record it and make it available for download for a $5 charitable contribution. I'm not seeing a penny from it. I should have details public in January 2013!

More information about David Mogolov and his work at: 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Q-and-A with Yana Kesala

Yana Kesala                  [Photo credit: Charlie Ainslie]

I recently met Yana Kesala at the Seattle Fringe Festival. I was super-pleased she agreed to do a brief Q-and-A with TSP.

Q: Please give us a brief bio, where you are from and how you started in theatre/performance?

A: Growing up in Chicago, my parents took me to a lot of theater. They had subscriptions to the Steppenwolf, the Goodman, and the Opera. I'm not sure why, but something about seeing Evelyn and the Polka King at the Steppenwolf in fourth grade just stuck with me--that show solidified my decision to be a performer. I can't remember the specifics but I do remember the feeling of watching it and knowing in my heart of hearts that I wanted to be on stage, doing what those performers were doing.

My first big play was A Midsummer Night's Dream my freshman year of high school. I continued to act and ended up studying Drama at Stanford University. In the summers I studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London and at American Repertory Theater (ART) and Moscow Art Theater School (MXRT) in Cambridge, MA. After college I completed the Classical Acting Course at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) and then moved to Seattle, which has served as the home base for my professional performing career.

Q: What event or desire brought you specifically into the world of solo performance?

A: I scored a 9 week touring gig to Australia in February 2010 with a Seattle company called theater simple. When it came time to go home, I knew that I couldn't leave Oz without knowing that I was someday going to come back. We were touring with a cast of 7 people--a logistical and financial challenge, to say the least. I knew it was more practical to have a smaller cast and most practical to have a cast of one: one person to accommodate, feed, and transport. So I thought, "I'll write and tour my own show." So I did! (And I'm heading back to Australia in February 2013--not to perform, but to be an audience member at the Adelaide Fringe. The money I made touring my show this summer made my trip back a reality!)

Q: Could you tell us about some of your solo work?
A: The Ukrainian Dentist's Daughter, the solo show I toured to the Montreal, Winnipeg, and Seattle Fringes this year, is a romantic comedy based on my mother's life. She once said, "I'm not interesting enough that anyone would ever write a book about me." That stuck in my mind for a long time. When I was in Australia and batting around ideas for a solo show, her story rose to the top of the list. My mother has seen so much in her 69 years. It was a bit surreal to write the show and realize: her story is my story. Change the clothes and hair and names and you still have a young woman hopeful for love and recognition in a world that glorifies a different ideal.

I'm currently working on my sophomore piece, I Think My Heart Needs Glasses. It's about love and my relationship with my vision, both physical and perceptive. It's very much in a zygote state right now...but on track to begin touring in Spring 2013.

Q: How would you describe your particular kind of solo performance?

A: My solo performance is based in story. I'm not a huge fan of elaborate props, costume, or set--in The Ukrainian Dentist's Daughter I don't even have water for myself on stage. I have a theory that props always want to play themselves, just like an actor who may only have one line so they do something odd with it to make it stand out. I've had too many fans drop or glasses break or hats go akilter to trust props. :)

I strive to make shows that I would personally want to see and I usually gauge a show by how much I care about the characters. If the character dies, the audience should have a reaction. If the character gets super close to getting their heart's desire and it eludes them at the last minute, I want the audience to feel that goal slipping through their own fingers.

Q: What is your favorite thing about doing this work?
A: By far my favorite thing is the feeling of having the audience in the palm of my hand, safely transporting them to a different world and back again, leaving them wondering where the past 50 minutes have gone. When you're the only performer on stage, the audience becomes your scene partner; each audience in their unique way is going to ebb and flow as the story progresses. It is terrifyingly thrilling to be at the reins for the ride.

Q: What inspires you to keep going and how do you keep yourself motivated?
A: Never before in my training or career have I felt so connected to a piece or received such positive feedback from audiences as I have performing my own work. Knowing that I am successfully reaching individuals who see my show keeps me on track to continue to create. It can be lonely at times, especially during the rehearsal process. But the joy of putting the piece up in front of excited people--that's the prize.

Q: What is your approach to the development process when putting together a new project? Do you create a lot on stage, improvising? More on paper? Tape or video record? Hold readings? Go to a mountain top?
A: I brainstorm and write a lot before I get up on my feet. I don't necessarily know where I'm going to end up when I begin my development process, but I have a rough idea of what I want to achieve with the work. With The Ukrainian Dentist's Daughter I interviewed my mother and transcribed the interviews. It turned out to be 68 pages. I read and re-read and re-read the pages until I got an idea as to what could serve as the anchor for the play--in this case it turned out to be my mother's wedding day. There are a lot of ideas that swim through my head seemingly for ages before something tells me to write. It comes in bursts--I'll write 5 pages in one sitting and then I won't write for a week. When I have a rough script I push the dining room furniture to the side and start playing with it on my feet, editing as I rehearse. Once the play has a nice shape, I perform it for a select number of colleagues. I ask them to tell me what they see--as a solo performer who self-directs, it's invaluable to get someone in there to tell me if what I think I'm doing is actually what I'm doing! More edits and rehearsal follow until the show is ready for an audience.

Q: Who are some of your influences or people that inspire/embolden you?
A: I'm endlessly inspired by the women in my life. Obviously my mother, but also my friends--they are the most wonderful, talented, driven, gorgeous, intelligent, and fun people on the planet. Sometimes I get overwhelmed at my fortune to be surrounded by such grace and love. My family and friends listen to every new idea and potential project with open hearts and have no doubt that I'll do whatever I set my mind to. It's wonderful to strike out boldly into the world knowing that you have this army of supporters rallying behind you.

Q: How do you bridge the gap of the business side of theatre?
A: Creating that bridge is one of my big projects this year. I'm launching my production company, Radiant Moxie. It's been quite a learning experience this past summer, taking my show on the road and paying for it essentially out of pocket. I'm seeking out help in the business side of things and ultimately hope to make my living creating and performing my own theatrical work.

Q: Any advice for some aspiring artist just starting out in solo performance?
A: Henry Ford said it best: "Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right." Solo work distills the performance experience down to essentials--there is nowhere to hide. Embrace that bravely. For me, once I did that, it was the best time ever.

Q: Share with us something funny that has happened to you recently.
A: At the end of my Canadian tour this summer, I flew into Vancouver from Winnipeg and LaChrista, my friend from Seattle, came to pick me up. We hadn't seen each other in months and painted Vancouver red our first night out. There is a giant buffalo sculpture downtown (at least I think it's a buffalo!) and we decided it was a brilliant idea to climb it. It was hard to get a good grip and a lovely lady passing by gave me the foothold I needed to shimmy up in my strapless dress. It was a moment of triumph after many hysterical and loud attempts to mount the sculpture (my sweaty hands kept squeaking down its metal side.) Moral of the story: I owe much of my success to the kindness of strangers. And... short skirts and riding buffalos don't mix.

Q: What do you see for the future of solo performance and for you personally as an artist?
A: I think solo performance is going to continue to grow in popularity. Overhead costs are low, which makes it very appealing to producers. And audiences never tire of hearing a deeply personal story, which is at the heart of much solo performance. For myself I see more work in the vein of The Ukrainian Dentist's Daughter: a woman's story told frankly and openly. If I touch the hearts of audience members and remind them of the beauty and hope in all of our stories, then I consider myself successful.


Yana's Website:

Sunday, August 12, 2012


"There is something poignant about this deconstruction of choking. It suggests that the reason some performers fall apart on the back nine or at the free-throw line is because they care too much. They really want to win, and so they get unravelled by the pressure of the moment. The simple pleasures of the game have vanished; the fear of losing is what remains.

— Jonah Lehrer, “The New Neuroscience of Choking” (emphasis mine)

Interesting article in the New Yorker about "choking." It is interesting in two regards for solo performers. First off, this can happen to a performer on stage. I have performed my solo show CHOP probably fifty times for different audiences in a variety of settings over the last two and half years. I know the show. But I found myself blanking out last month during one show. It only lasted a few moments, but it felt like choking. Here's the deal: this show was the second of three show run here in my hometown. These weren't strangers in the audience, but people I know.

It happens to high level athletes (the Olympics is full of top-tier athletes choking), to executives trying to close huge deals, to high school kids taking a big exam.

The interesting thing about choking that the article points out, is that it is caused by an act of over-thinking. And there is an experience curve to it. If you are starting out, a beginner, then really concentrating on all the little details is beneficial. At some point, though, the actions become automatic - it is in the bones - and to over-analyze t hem may cause a performer to freeze up.
The other thing about this article that struck me is how as solo perfomers we may self-cannibalize our material (think Mike Daisey referencing his Maine childhood in every piece...). As solo performers this can happen easily, since we often draw on personal stories for our content. The troubles of Jonah Lehrer, whatever you may think of his situation, serve as a sort of cautionary tale.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

United Solo Fest

On the watch for fests that center in on solo performers, here's a big 'un...

The 3rd Annual United Solo Theatre Festival will present 52 women and 48 men performing solo work from October 11 - November 18, 2012. On Theatre Row along 42nd Street in NYC.

they take submissions in the spring, then announce in the summer for a fall fest.

Check it out HERE.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Story-telling and the Brain

Arguably, one of the most prominent things solo performers do is act as contemporary story-tellers. With that in mind, I recommend looking over this Jonah Sachs article on Fast Company. Though it is titled "How To Build Positive Marketing Stories That Work" it seems to have much to gleam for solo performance creators, particularly how our brains are hard-wired to pay attention to different story elements.

"People love stories about people, especially people who instantly stand out from the crowd. The lesson here is that to grab attention, we must bring our ideas on everything from climate change solutions to better ballpoint pens out of the abstractions of facts and claims and into the realm of expectation-breaking characters. Audiences will pay attention because they want to see, or hear, what these freaks will do next.

(Emphasis added to the quote above by me) Check it out HERE.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Submitting Your Work

A young performer approached me after a recent solo improv workshop I was leading. The young lady did not want to know about improv theory. She did not have questions about performance techniques. She did have a slew of questions about practical matters. She wanted to know about the concrete things folks in the performing arts deal with that a young performer seldom gets a chance to learn through workshops or classes. She wanted to know about websites and merchandising and securing venues. She wanted to know about the stuff I’ve learned “the hard way” which is to say, through years of trial and error. And I was happy to chat with her about that kind of stuff. One of her questions really stuck with me, and it is exactly the sort of thing this blog was built to address: What is the best or strongest way to submit your work to a festival or a venue?
Personally, I have found that there are a few things have proven to be wonderfully beneficial in getting my solo work out there. Chiefly, my first step is to make sure I have a really strong, worthwhile show. This sounds so simple, but I sometimes work on stuff that would find better expression in, say, a multi-character piece, or as spoken word at an open mic, or in a sketch comedy revue and so on. I have to feel really good about putting my name on the show as a solo work, first and foremost.
Hand in hand with the belief that my show is of high enough quality that it is actually ready to show to audiences (as well as critics and colleagues), I spend a lot of time really getting to know my show. How do I explain it to people? How do I market it as well as me performing it? This, of course, is a process. You will naturally find more and more in your own show the more you perform it.
When I was putting together CHOP and for the first several productions, at about three different festivals, I was leaning hard on a particular approach. I had understood my piece to be mostly about a protagonist that deals with finding his identity through unusual circumstances. And it is about that. But some feedback from my tech crew allowed me to see what they saw in the piece as well. They saw a romance. A love story between the protagonist and the woman who acts as a sort of catalyst for his transformation. Oh, I thought, yeah. My show also has a love story.
This changed both how I approached the show as an actor, but also in how I marketed the piece.
I think marketing tools are important. When submitting a piece you have to remember the people selecting and adjudicating for festivals have not seen your show yet. They are looking for a hint of what it is all about. Not just the content, but the vibe, too. And of course, without experiencing the show, marketing tools are the only gateway they have into the piece.
I like having a good promotional/clips video. I take the clips directly from actual show recordings. I want the selector to hear the audience response as much as my performance. I sprinkle these promos with press and word-of-mouth quotes. I put a record of all the places I’ve taken the show, all the press, all the information (photos, blurbs, etc.) - really everything - on a website. I think it is important to have a website as a one-stop shop for info on your show.
Besides having a solid show and basic marketing tools for the show, the last thing I think is helpful is simple human connections. If you know the folks at a certain venue, you’re a step ahead. If they know you through reputation or word-of-mouth, then you’re a step ahead. Even knowing people in a town you plan to go to offers the opportunity for potential audience and maybe a place to crash for free. Like all industries, most of theatre really runs on human relationships. I say, foster these relationships. Nurture your network.
I reached out to two other solo performers to see what they considered important when submitting your show.
Martin Dockery  is a whirlwind on stage. His funky, kinetic, loose-limbed diatribes about autobiographical events in his life have taken form in wonderful solo shows like THE BIKE TRIP, WANDERLUST, THE SURPRISE and THE DARK FANTASTIC. He has taken his pieces to fringe festivals all over North America. He has self-directed and collaborated with the likes of Jean-Michele Gregory. Here’s what Martin has to say…
Almost all the festivals I've submitted to have been lotteries, in which cases, they didn't ask for anything. Not even the name of the piece in some instances. The festivals that have been juried, though, didn't actually require video from me. It's probably their policy, but as it happened in my case, what mattered was a combination of being recommended by someone else, and then having all the favorable reviews to back up the recommendation. This is how I came to be a part of the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston and the Adelaide Fringe in Australia (world's 2nd largest fringe). I'll be doing the Melbourne Comedy Festival this year, too (world's 3rd largest, I think). This came about because I applied and had good credentials. They didn't ask for a video. I'm also planning on applying to the Edinburgh Fringe this year, and I'm hoping it doesn't involve video. I try to avoid submitting video as video tape so rarely captures the vibrancy of both the room and performance. I'm like a native American in this way, I believe the camera steals the soul (though only in performance). Of course, if a festival or theater required it, I'd submit something. There are no scripts for any of my shows. They're all created orally, and I've never written any of them down. Video, though, does exist. And so, if a festival requires a script, I could send them this. Hasn't happened yet, though.
I believe it's important to have a website, if for no other reason than that it shows you're serious enough about what you're doing to HAVE a website. I have a website solely for this reason. I don't update it with original content, so there's nothing about it that would compel repeat visits. But it's there in case someone, as I said, wants to check whether I'm serious or not. (, by the way.)

And so, to answer your question: I think it's a combo of things. In my case, that combo has been: recommendation, a long list of good reviews and performance history, backed up by a website
Faye Lane is a transplanted Texan based now in the big apple. She, like Martin, is part of The Moth, a story-telling organization and radio show in New York. Faye has taken her folksy, sweet and hilarious show THE BEAUTY SHOP STORIES to venues and festivals far and wide. Think Jerry Clower meets Billie Holiday and you’ll get an idea of Faye’s autobiographical solo show that combines stories, songs and intimate characterizations. Here’s what Faye had to say about the process of submitting your show to the world…
I think when you're submitting to a festival the more the better, (especially with a full script, if you have it,) but a good video reel is the best!
I adjudicated FringeNYC recently, and I couldn't help but pay the most attention to shows with really grabby video reels. Another tip: Don't spend too much [money or energy] on fancy notebooks and binders. Most festival adjudicators never even see them. The NY Fringe throws all that stuff away, and the adjudicators just get the materials in a plain manilla envelope.
Oh! And a good, heartfelt cover letter is a must. Just simple language explaining what the show is about. And most importantly, why this project means so much to you. In my experience, cheeky and clever are a turn off. Simple, heartfelt language is best.
For more information on my solo work click here.
For more info on Martin Dockery, click here.
For more info on Faye Lane, click here.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

"Comedy is difficult, and highly subjective."

from an article by Todd Levin about his time as a comedy writer for Late Night With Conan O'Brien.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


So, in the last week or so, this whole Mike Daisey/This American Life has come down. Let me be clear from the get-go, I'm a fan of Mike Daisey. To some degree, he has inspired me in the past and I consider him a talented colleague. I see his strengths and, also as a solo performer and theatre artist (director/playwright, etc.), I can see many of his weaknesses. Having met him and seen a few of his pieces live and been to his blog and followed him on YouTube, etc I can say "Yeah, I keep up with Daisey." I've mentioned him several times on this site.

In a nutshell, the situation I'm referring to in this post concerns Daisey on an episode of This American Life back in January. He did an excerpt from his show "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs" about abuses in the Foxconn factory that makes Apple equipment. The trouble was that, as broadcast on National Public Radio, Daisey allowed his work to be represented as factual truth. In fact, when asked straight-to-his-face by the producers of This American Life, Daisey blatantly lied and said, basically, "yeah, it's all true."

But, factually, Daisey fabricated a lot of details and spun/exaggerated tiny details here and there in his piece. And this kind of thing does not fly on a show dedicated to journalistic standards of factual reporting. So, bottom line, Daisey misrepresented himself in a very, very public way. He was caught lying.

My colleague and friend Chris Taylor moderates a theatre website centered around the Dallas-Ft. Worth area called The Stage Directions Blog. Chris is a thinker-about-the-theatre, and over beers the other night he mentioned this Daisey/TAL thing. I had been out of town and hadn't heard of it yet. I was on my honeymoon last week, actually, on cruise in the Caribbean, unplugged. Chris' news took me by surprise. The whole thing has many layers and has a ring of real human tragedy. For Daisey.

Chris has posted a pretty thorough summary and weigh-in on the situation in his post. He poses an interesting question about the responsibility of a performer to tell "the truth." It is totally worth a look. Here.

To read the transcript of the original Jan. 6, 2012 episode of This American Life (the audio has been taken offline), go here.

Go here the This American Life Retraction episode, go here.

Go here Daisey's reaction to all this, listen to a recent talk he made at Georgetown. Here.

Still processing exactly how I feel and think about the whole thing. What do you think?