Solo Success: Telling It, Selling It, Booking It
Tuesday 2/19, networking and refreshments at 7pm, panel at 7:30
Polaris North Theatre, 245 W. 29th Street, 4th floor
Panel to feature Valerie David, solo artist, self-producer (The Pink Hulk); Aizzah Fatima, solo artist, self-producer (Dirty Paki Lingerie); Ingrid Griffith, writer, performer and self-producer (Demerara Gold); Kurt Johns, writer (Hello Kitty Must Die), director (Churchill, The Unfortunates), co-founder SoloChicago Theatre Company; Jessica Sherr, solo artist, self-producer (Bette Davis Ain't for Sissies); Douglas Taurel, actor, solo artist, self-producer (The American Soldier).
Photo by Dan Lane Williams
Though creating and performing a solo show is one of the most rewarding experiences for an actor, it does present unique challenges for both creator and audience. Often it is written and performed by the same person (though there are many examples of writer-actor collaborations). And in spite of the dream of having someone to guide a show into production and success, most solo artists find they must add self-producer and marketer to their hyphenate job title. One-person shows tend to be tricky commercially, unless they are driven by star power. So how can a relative unknown make the most of their moment in the spotlight, and generate interest and opportunities to attract attention and extend the life of their show? What are the secrets that help engage an audience in what is often a very personal story? What are the techniques that make a solo show more than a monologue? How do you make it accessible and identifiable to a broader audience, and where do you find that audience? From fringes and festivals to the annual APAP conference and tours, our panel will discuss their own successful strategies of development, as well as how they managed to extend the life of their shows into a fulfilling part of their career.
Doors open at 7:00pm for networking and refreshments, roundtable introductions of everyone in the room will start at 7:30pm - come prepared with your best 30-second summary of who you are, and what you need. Free for TRU members; $12.50 for non-members in advance ($15 at door). Please use the bright red reservation box on this page, or email at least a day in advance (or much sooner) for reservations: e-mail TRUStaff1@gmail.com (Note: we no longer have a phone message service, though we are working on it.)
is an award-winning actor and playwright. She wrote her autobiographical solo show The Pink Hulk as a cancer survivor to express the empowerment to find humor and superhero inner strength to become a 3-time cancer survivor. It has been accepted into 45 different festivals/engagements, performed in over 23 cities in the U.S. and abroad including England, Finland, Sweden and Iceland; went from page to stage in less than 6 months’ time. The Pink Hulk have been featured on NBC 4 New York, CBS, FOX, amNY, The IndyStar, Breast Friends Cancer Support Radio Network, First Online With Fran, The Crisis Help Show and the Jim Masters Show! Live. Kristen Morale of Broadway World writes: “Watching Valerie David perform The Pink Hulk is something so marvelous…it is the most powerful and poignant two hours I have ever spent at a theater.” Upcoming in-person Pink Hulk performances are Oct 27, 28 and 30 at The Cell Theatre in Chelsea. She is currently developing her new solo show Baggage from BaghDAD about her father and his family fleeing Iraq in 1941 from religious persecution. Valerie has self-produced The Pink Hulk since its debut in 2016. For more info on Valerie and The Pink Hulk/upcoming run, visit https://pinkhulkplay.com/
is a graudate of the conservatory at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and studied acting with the acclaimed Wynn Handman. Aizzah has appeared on High Maintenance (HBO), The Good Wife (CBS), Patrice O’Neal’s Guide to White People (Comedy Central), opposite Annette O’Toole in the short film Stuff , and is currently filming the lead role in the feature film My Cousin Sister's Wedding for which she wrote the screenplay with Emmy award winning director Iman Zawahry. She is the writer and performer of the critically acclaimed comedy one woman play Dirty Paki Lingerie which was developed with Matt Hoverman and Wynn Handman. The play has had sold out performances and received rave reviews in The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, NYC (The Flea Theater, 59E59, Abington Theater), Toronto (Harbourfront Center), a tour in Pakistan sponsored by the US Department of State, three tours in the UK including a 15 city tour in 2016 in addition to a US College Tour. Dirty Paki Lingerie is the first play to be invited to represent the United States at the International Theater Festival of Turkmenistan. The Wall Street Journal hailed it the play that "Breaks down stereotypes of Muslim women in America" and critics called it a "must-see" production. The play has been nominated for a Broadway World award and a Manchester Theatre Award in the UK.
has been performing in contemporary and classic roles off-Broadway and regionally since moving to New York City. She earned a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from City College of New York and has written articles on fitness and popular culture that have been published nationally. Demerara Gold, the solo-play, written and performed by Ingrid Griffith, is an entertaining, nostalgic and thought-provoking story of a Guyanese girl's immigrant experience. The play casts an unblinking eye on issues such as children left behind, cultural norms, assimilation, domestic abuse and personal empowerment. The show premiered in 2014 at the Manhattan Theater Festival to sold out audiences and has since been garnering favorable reviews nationally and internationally. Ingrid received a Godfrey Chin Award for Heritage Journalism from the Guyana Cultural Association of NY in 2014 forDemerara Gold. In 2016, Ms. Griffith was one of fifty honorees at the Guyana 50 @ 50th Anniversary event in New York City, hosted by Mayor de Blasio. In 2017, Griffith received an Impact Award from Caribbean Life newspaper and was voted onto AUDELCO’s short list of nominees for Best Solo Show Performance. In 2018, Griffith received a dual grant from a Brooklyn foundation and the City University of New York to perform Demerara Gold for selected high schools in Brooklyn, and is also published and available on Amazon.com (publisher: NoPassportPress, 2016). At present, Ingrid is writing a solo show about Shirley Chisholm, a Brooklyn-born politician and daughter of immigrant parents, who in the 20th century was the first African-American woman elected to a seat in Congress.
director, writer, teacher, coach. A 20-year resident of New York City, Kurt had a great performing career in regionals, Broadway and National Tours. He was on staff at Manhattan Theater Club and Broadway Online Inc. before repatriating to Chicago to concentrate on directing and writing. Kurt taught and directed music theatre majors at Chicago College of Performing Arts before becoming one of the co-founders of SoloChicago Theatre Company whose production of Churchill, the Play was a runaway hit in Chicago before moving to New York City to play a 6-month run at New World Stages. Kurt also directed & produced SoloChicago's critically acclaimed The Unfortunates. Kurt has directed at such theaters as New World Stages (NYC), The Auditorium Theatre, Light Opera Works, Chicago College of Performing Arts, Apple Tree Theater, and of course SoloChicago. Kurt will be directing The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey at Chicago’s American Blues Theater in the spring. Hello Kitty Must Die is not the only work Kurt's written for the stage. His first was as co-author of The NOT Mikado which toured and came dangerously close to making it to Broadway. You can read more about his work at kurtjohns.com
is a graduate of the Wynn Handman Acting Studio and has studied improv at UCB, The PIT, and the Annoyance Theater. Jessica will appear on Season 2 of Claws (TNT) and was recently seen on Blue Bloods (CBS) opposite Donnie Wahlberg. “Scratch This The Series” won GRAND PRIZE and BEST COMEDY at New York Women and Film Festival. Her film "One, Two, Guess Who is Who" directed by Italian director, Lorenzo Faccenda, screened at The London International Filmmaker Festival and has won Best Feature Film at New York Film Awards and Best Foreign Feature at The Los Angeles Independent Film Awards. “We Are the Prototypes” is an official selection of Dances With Films Festival and will have it’s world premiere at The Chinese Theaters in Los Angeles. Jessica was the face of Fruit by the Foot and had a two-year National Campaign for Aquafresh. She finished a 6-part industrial for Pricewaterhouse Coopers. Jessica is the actress / writer of the acclaimed one-woman show, Bette Davis Ain't for Sissies. She had her international debut at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival and had a successful 4-week run in Chicago at The Athenaeum Theater. She has a monthly residency at The Actors Episcopal Guild in New York. “Bette Davis is Bad-Ass”—The Fourth Walsh.
Taurel’s solo show The American Soldier, has performed the Off Broadway, the Kennedy Center, LIbrary of Congress, New York Federal Reserve Bank and American Legion National headquarters and countless theaters and art center across the country for the past 4 and half years for veterans and audiences. It has been featured in the Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Military Times and Time Out to name a few. It has also been nominated for the Amnesty International Award, and earned 4 stars at the Edinburgh Festival fringe and had 5 sell out show during festival. Taurel was commissioned by the Library of Congress to write and and perform his second solo show, An American Soldier’s Journey Home which commemorates the ending of the First World War and tells the story of Irving Greenwald, a soldier in the 308 Regiment and part of the Lost Battalion. He performed the play at the Library of Congress on Veterans Day and Memorial Day of 2017. He’s recently finished filming the Web TV Series Landing Home, which he wrote and directed, it tells the story of a Veteran having a hard time to adjusting out of the Military. He’s appeared in numerous television shows including Mr. Robot, The Americans, Blue Bloods, Person of Interest, The Following, Damages, NYC 22, Believe and Nurse Jackie. In the indie world, films include The Cobbler (Adam Sandler and Dustin Hoffman directed by Tom McCarthy), Delivery at the HBO Latin Films Festival and the upcoming The Kindergarten Teacher (Maggie Gyllenhall and directed by Sara Conlangelo).