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  • The Bathroom Break

3 Simple Ways to Workshop your One Woman Show at your Friend’s Engagement Party

By Melanie Hart

If you’re anything like me, then you quit your job as a paralegal to dedicate yourself full-time to jump starting your acting career with a 96 minute autobiographical stage production aimed at women aged 25 to 34. As we both know (because I’m definitely not the only person who’s done this, mom) writing is the easy part, rewriting is when it gets really difficult. Focusing your story, editing out scenes that bog down the pacing, and refining your prose are all incredibly difficult to do on your own. Thankfully, my old roommate from college invited me to her engagement party out of obligation. Here are three ways I snuck in some much-needed workshopping, even though I barely knew anyone.

1. Try out characters: Since this is a one woman show where you’ll be showing off the skills that got you a regional award for best supporting actress in a stage production when you were 15, you’re gonna need to write some juicy roles. The question is, what characters will make the most impact in your show? Since you barely know any of these women, in fact you barely even recognize your friend anymore, these are the perfect people to try your characters out on. Act them out like they’re your actual self, then gauge the reaction from the party-goer you’re talking to. If she thinks it’s cute, that character goes in the show! If she doesn’t, they’re still going in the show, who the hell is she anyway?!

2. Tell emotional stories. This is it. Drama! It’s the lifeblood of any actor and an integral part of your unique story about living in Brooklyn in your mid-twenties. No one here knows you anyway, so you can get as “semi-autobiographical” as you want. Your father left you when you were young and now you’re taking care of your mentally ill mother and two siblings? Sure! Are you just copying the plot of that Jennifer Lawrence movie “Winter’s Bone?” Yes, but they don’t need to know that.

3. Ask for donations. This technically isn’t workshopping, but in a way it kind of is. For example, if your replacement, I mean Sarah’s current best-friend, happens to mention that she’s getting a new couch then think about how you can incorporate the old couch into your show. Then just offer to accept the donation in exchange for an executive producing credit on the playbill. This’ll work at least 25% of the time. Especially if you’re really drunk and sad at this point because you decided to drink instead of act like a normal person and not make Sarah regret that Brad ever forced her to invite you.

Next week, I’ll be writing an article on how to actually get people to come to your one-woman show if it ever happens.

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