That’s right, off the back porch and onto the main stage!
I’m taking a workshop called “Creating a One-Person Show.”
Maybe I’m not ready for prime time yet, but you know I’ve got some stories to tell, and my days as a trainer made me a bit of a stand-up entertainer, too.
So, I signed up for this 6-session workshop through the UT Informal Classes. Unfortunately, I had to miss the initial session while still on the road back from Asheville, but our workshop leader, Susannah, sent out notes from that meeting and our homework assignment for the second meeting.
A major thrust behind the workshop overall is to identify and focus on a key point of change in your life, so our first homework assignment was to write a brief (500-700 word) piece describing one such key point of change.
I narrowed my choices down to basically 4 topics (with a fifth category for additional ideas). The core four were about: love and marriage, death and survival, my crooked career path, and my dog, Brutus.
The love story, of course, I have blogged about here before (A Coast-to-Coast-to-Coast Romance in 3 Acts). Rendering our love story again as a one-person show would force me to re-evaluate the presentation of that story to fine-tune it for performance.
The death and survival story would be compelling, and perhaps more closely represents that sort of life-changing moment a bit more. Without divulging too many details of that possible piece, suffice it to say that confronting the death of a close friend at a young age will work some serious changes in your life-view. Being afforded the opportunity to help another loved one survive a close call with death shortly thereafter then provided me with what I have often referred to as “parentheses” or “bookends” on this close encounter with death.
The crooked career path story is tempting to adapt into a one-person performance piece, even if just to tell some of the shorter episodes: soda jerk in a black-light ice cream parlor, blowing up dynamite and treading quicksand as a “doodlebugger,” and hawking wares at the Renaissance Faire (until banished by the King) — then, finally finding the pathway that led to my career, first as a volunteer test subject in a locked psychiatric ward, leading me to become a mental health worker, then a staff trainer and then an instructional designer. Yes, that story’s tempting to explore more, and there are turning points aplenty in that tale. In a way, that might even be the point of taking the workshop in the first place: what’s next in this odd dance I’m engaged in?
As to the tales of my dog, Brutus, well, that was the easiest piece to work up first. My history with Brutus, from reluctant and accidental ownership through years of devotion, likewise provides a number of “turning points” in my life as I grew from footloose, fancy-free vagabonder to responsible adult.
So. for Tuesday’s class, I prepared a short piece about Brutus and how he came to be my dog, despite my best intentions otherwise. I also presented an impromptu rendition of part of our travel adventures (Big Bend) as an in-class exercise, and my cohorts in the class seemed to like it a lot.
In those two pieces, I alluded to two key turning points in my life involved with Brutus, as well as a really deep revelation buried in there as well.
Now, the trick will be putting the individual episodes together in such a way as to build a narrative behind the anecdotes.
Stayed tuned for our coming attractions!