In 2001, I started GO-SOLO with 3 trusting friends, a music stand and an idea: that every person has a story to tell. I put together my favorite writing, acting, improv and storytelling exercises from the many classes I'd taken (and taught) over the years, and I developed a curriculum that has since grown and cohered into the gentle, powerful and proven GO-SOLO technique. Over ninety 7-week L2 workshops later, I have empowered hundreds of actors, writers and regular folk to transform the details of their lives and the stuff of their imaginations into beautifully funny, powerful and above all human solo shows. These one-person tour de forces have led to rave reviews, sold-out shows, standing ovations, numerous awards, international success, new representation, book deals, film deals, a Fulbright - and tremendous personal and professional transformation for all my students. As I look back on the last 15 years, I couldn't be more proud or humbled by the amazing work we've created together... and the lifelong bonds we've forged in our small, intimate classes. As moved as I am by the great theatre we've made, I'm even more touched by the friendships and collaborations I've seen spring up between classmates and fellow alumni. I love how so many of my students, after performing and producing their own solo shows, have gone on to direct, teach, produce and in so many ways mentor and inspire the next generation of emerging solo show geniuses.
I can now reveal my secret agenda. Sure, GO-SOLO is about writing and performing one-person plays. But my deeper mission has always been to start a quiet revolution. So many of the theatre classes I took seemed devoted to identifying and praising "talent" in select star pupils (to the detriment and discouragement of everyone else.) Western artistic education seems to me to be devoted to creating stunted critics, not functional artists who believe in themselves. My message is simple but radical: You're already a genius. Yes, I mean you. So just listen to what wants to be born... and then get out of the way.
What if you trusted you? What if you believed that what you've always hidden and felt secretly ashamed about, was actually the greatest thing about you? What if the more bravely personal you got, the more universal your work became? What if you believed you really were enough?
You are. I promise.
I'm saying all this because I now I find myself entering a new phase of my own artistic development. As most of you know, I'm a playwright as well as a teacher. In the last few years, I've also started to write children's television, specifically animated series like ARTHUR and CURIOUS GEORGE. I'd always been drawn to the imagination, humor and heart of those kinds of shows, but I franklywasn't sure I could handle the rigors of a professional writing room. I was afraid.
Teaching you all gave me the courage to try.
In my second season of writing for ARTHUR, I won an Emmy for Best Writing of Animated Series. I was also honored to write the double-length special CURIOUS GEORGE episode celebrating the books' 75th anniversary.
And then, just two weeks ago, I was invited to join the writing staff of Disney's wildly popular show SOFIA THE FIRST. It's all happened very quickly. The deal was finalized on a Friday, I was on an airplane to Los Angeles on that Sunday. I started work at the House of Mouse on that Monday. I've now been writing SOFIA for the last two weeks. I'm having a ball.
It's a dream come true.
Another dream that's coming true is that GO-SOLO has grown into an institution that will outlive my teaching all the classes. For the last two years, I have been training the brilliant, kind and funny Christine Renee Miller. (She developed two solo shows in GO-SOLO, and has also directed a number of my students' award-winning solo shows - like Mary Dimino's FringeNYC Best Solo Show Award winner SCARED SKINNY and Michelle Glick's MITF Audience Award winner ASIAN BELLE.)
Christine has been knocking it out of the park teaching all our L1 classes for the last year, and she just seamlessly took over
the 2nd half of my two current L2 classes (due to my abrupt departure.)
For the rest of 2015, Christine will teach all of our L2 classes. She may also teach a few L1 classes, although we're preparing our second GO-SOLO designated teacher (another alum and my lovely and super-talented wife, Katie Atcheson) to helm L1.
When I first started teaching GO-SOLO, a lot of what I offered were my dramaturgical instincts. Over the years, those intuitions have solidified into an accessible, clear and teachable series of exercises and principles. It's an approach that anyone can learn, and it really, really works. I am supremely confident in both Christine and Katie's grasp of these tools and their ability to impart them to the coming crops of students with caring, insight, fun and flair.
At this time, I'm still figuring out my future contribution to GO-SOLO. I'm not sure yet whether I'll be staying in LA, or coming back to NYC. Some of the possibilites we're discussing (in addition to my returning from time to time to teach L2 workshops) include my teaching master classes/weekends/retreats, starting a West Coast branch of LA and/or offering on-line workshops. But for the time being, my energies will be focused on my new job.
I will continue to update the website and send out e-newsletters (as will Christine.) And I will keep a close eye on all things GO-SOLO.
Please know that my heart and spirit are with each of you.
I'll see YOU... at a solo show!