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← Clear Your Roadblocks! Advice from a Solo Artist

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Showing Revision 1 created 05/31/2017 by Melinda Grace.

  1. Hi! ...and
    welcome to Everyday, Extraordinary Women.

  2. This is Jessica Lynn Johnson.
    Hello.
  3. And I'm so excited to have her here today.
    [Music.]
  4. Welcome back. We have our tea here.
    Cheers.
  5. Cheers.
    To a good show. [Laughing.]
  6. So, I wanted to just know more about
    how you came across solo theatre
  7. Like how did you get started in it?
    What were you thinking? Were you crazy?
  8. When I got started with solo theatre,
    that was, it was right when I, uh,
  9. moved to New York City.
    You know, essentially I was like,
  10. I don't want to wait
    for the phone to ring.
  11. I want to be generating material.
    But I had no idea what I was doing.
  12. I just knew that I could play characters
    and I was a writer.
  13. Ok, I'm going to use these talents and
    and put something up on stage.
  14. So, I wrote my first show,
    "Oblivious To Everyone."
  15. I toured that show for about a decade.
    and it grew and changed.
  16. Like it started out as a
    20 minute version.
  17. And then it grew to like 70 minutes.
  18. You...obviously did not
    give up on that project.
  19. Yeah.
  20. Like you kept going and tweaking it.
  21. And I had to keep making it
    interesting for myself.
  22. Like, I had to keep discovering new things
    about the characters,
  23. or...um...that piece was all about
    ...um...racism, homophobia, uh...
  24. uh...just predjudice of
    ...uh...materialism
  25. all kinds of different things.
    So, that was always changing in society
  26. and how the media was portraying it
    was changing too.
  27. So, there's always new material
    to add to the show
  28. and to adapt it.
    Honestly, I just kinda, you know
  29. it became...it was like ok
    it's time to move into,
  30. into something new.
    And that's when I created my second show,
  31. "Z"
  32. "Z"
  33. ...so...yeah...
  34. Alright. And was that
    here in Los Angeles?
  35. That was here in LA.
    With...uh...Terrie Silverman.
  36. Um...who was my director.
    I took her master class.
  37. And it was a six-month
    process of developing that show.
  38. and that's about...um...
    the LGBTQIA community.
  39. and also...um...
    healthy spirituality.
  40. So, that's what that show explores.
  41. Oh yes.
    I wanted to know how you
  42. made the switch from a performer
    to being a teacher / coach?
  43. Cause you solely do that right now,
    right?
  44. I guess that started with
    David Magidoff.
  45. I think he's the first person that
    pops into my mind.
  46. David was very passionate about
    creating free improv
  47. and community through
    the arts.
  48. um...and so, he approached me
    and asked if I would do
  49. my solo show...uh...class.
    Under the umbrella of Monkey Butler.
  50. and I...he asked me
    like six times.
  51. And I said no [laughing].
    I said no over and over and over again.
  52. Not because I wasn't in cahoots
    with his mission, but
  53. because I didn't have faith in myself
    as a teacher.
  54. I was like I...
    I'm a performer and I can teach
  55. for like a day.
    But I'm not a teacher.
  56. Like I don't teach.
    So that finally I was just like
  57. ok, yes, if you'll leave me alone.
    I'll do it. You know.
  58. And then when I, when I did
    my first twelve-week course,
  59. we set it up for twelve-weeks
    of free classes.
  60. I just fell in love.
    I fell in love with, with teaching
  61. and with the student's stories.
    And...um...and there's something
  62. so magical about creating
    community like that through the arts
  63. that is free.
    So that money is never a hindrance.
  64. Because everybody has a story
    worthy of telling no matter
  65. what their monetary situation is.
    Um...so, I came alive in that process.
  66. I was wondering if you could just
    share with us like one or
  67. (well as many as you want) but,
    [Laugh.]
  68. Five million.
  69. Five million obstacles that [Yes.]
    you had to overcome?
  70. in answer to, like obstacles.
    Well, I'm my own obstacle
  71. when I have limited thinking
    or negative thinking
  72. or I'm trying to control...um...
    the way that it should play out.
  73. So, for me it's a daily practice of...
    of waking up and, and giving my
  74. day to God and surrendering.
    And just being like, I'm a vessle.
  75. And show me what to focus on today.
    And if that's submitting to acting jobs,
  76. great. If that's, you know,
    doing principle work on acting job, great.
  77. If it's teaching, great.
    You know, and just...um...
  78. staying open to that kind of
    divine leading.
  79. I'm very woo-woo.
    [Laughing.]
  80. If you haven't picked up on that already.
    Um...I am, I'm very spiritual and woo-woo
  81. and I don't pretend not to be.
    [Laughing.]
  82. It's too, too who I am.
    So...yeah.
  83. Share with us, what is the biggest
    thing you've learned
  84. as a solo artist and teacher?
  85. So, I, you know, I've said this
    to my, my students that
  86. with solo theatre, I think,
    it's very unique in the sense that
  87. you have to show up for yourself
    in a way that you don't have too
  88. in any other genre.
    You know if you're in a
  89. a, a play that has a huge cast,
    you're gonna show up because
  90. you have, you know, ten other
    people relying on you.
  91. And a director, and all the tech people
    and, like, you know,
  92. a whole production relying on you.
    And for solo theatre,
  93. you have to show up for yourself
    everyday. You have to show up
  94. and make you make sure you
    wrote that script and you're
  95. rehearsing your lines, and
    you're working on your characters,
  96. and you're doing the research,
    and you believe in your story
  97. enough to get on stage.
    Or you don't believe it in it,
  98. but you're gonna do it anyway.
    [Laughing.] Whatever it is.
  99. And so, for me,
    that's been the biggest lesson,
  100. is just showing up for myself
    and saying you're worthy of this.
  101. [Laughing.]
    Just say, you know,
  102. "Fake it 'till you make it."
    Believe that.
  103. You know, and get up on the stage
    and share.
  104. Are there any other ways
    um...in addition to when
  105. we wake up in the morning,
    like telling ourselves that,
  106. that we can show up for ourselves?
  107. uhhum...I don't even want to see
    the tapes of my first performances
  108. of "Oblivious."
    It was probably so horrible,
  109. but whatever!
    You know, I got up and I did it!
  110. and so that's an accomplishment
    in, in itself, and I didn't do that
  111. I wouldn't have gotten to...
    to do my show now.
  112. Or any of the other different
    accolades that came my way,
  113. because I had to mess up.
    I had to fail. I had to, you know,
  114. work my way through it.
    So, I think, just having grace
  115. for ourselves.
    That it's a journey.
  116. It's a process.
    We can change and grow along the way.
  117. It does not have to be perfect.
    In fact, it's never going to be perfect.
  118. What is perfect?
    Right?
  119. um...so, just to allow ourselves
    that grace. To be like, just play!
  120. Well, I love how you brought up
    the idea of surrendering to like
  121. something new. Even if it's
    not what we expected.
  122. Yes.
  123. Because, I feel like that has been my
    journey this year.
  124. about, you know, taking those
    leaps of faith when our inner knowing
  125. told us to do something.
    and a lot of times it is scary stuff
  126. and it doesn't make sense and
    the best things in my life have come
  127. from that space of listening
    to my intuition.
  128. Even when it was scary,
    even when it didn't make sense,
  129. when it led me into the unknown.
  130. What advice would you give to
    um...any artist out there
  131. who are watching, or who will watch
    later on the YouTube show
  132. um...if, that are thinking about starting
    or writing a solo show...
  133. uhhmm...
  134. What would you say?
  135. Well, first thing, if you're, you know
    in Los Angeles, come to my class!
  136. It's free. So, you can e-mail me at
    soaringsoloartist@gmail.com
  137. or jessicalynnjohnson.com and sign up
    to be on my mailing, my mailing list.
  138. um...and just come to class.
    It's free.
  139. um...if that's not, you know, feasible
    for you, I do Skype sessions as well.
  140. But, I think the important thing,
    whoever you work with
  141. is just starting. Just start.
    Somewhere.
  142. I think that's the biggest obstacle
    for so many people is they
  143. just never start.
    They conceptualize ideas about what
  144. their shows going to be about.
    and they talk about it alot or
  145. they write something and
    shove it in a drawer, and it's...
  146. Just start and, and let it reveal itself.
  147. Anything else you would add to
    anyone watching that has like this
  148. germ of an idea?
  149. Yeah.
    um...well this is a little bit of a
  150. different angle.
    I just sent out this email the other day
  151. about how we're all snowflakes.
    A little bit cheesy, but, you know,
  152. I'm, I'm pretty sappy if you
    get to know me.
  153. [Laughing.]
  154. um...but, but it's true, you know,
    like we, when you have this idea
  155. of blaze your own trail or
    go a different direction,
  156. trust that because you are,
    you're as intricate and unique
  157. as a snowflake. And yet you are
    part of a beautiful winter
  158. wonderland of snow.
    You know, we're, we're all
  159. unified, but we're all unique.
    And so, I think, again, yeah,
  160. trust your intuition and those
    uh...that trailblazing idea that comes up.
  161. uhhmm.
    Follow it.
  162. Follow it.
    It's leading you to...
  163. to your path.
    To your highest path.
  164. To the next thing.
    Oh. But why, that?
  165. Why is that the hardest thing to do?
  166. Right?
    [Laughing.]
  167. Well, greatness isn't easy.
  168. I know, right?
    [Laughing.]
  169. So, I just wanted to give a special
    shout out to Jessica for coming on.
  170. Taking time out her busy day
    to share with us. um...
  171. And thank you to you
    for having me!
  172. I was so, like, nerdy, excited
    about this...I was like aww...
  173. and then the flowers on the wall
    match the flowers on my dress,
  174. I was like it's meant to be!
  175. Yes!
  176. Bye!
    Bye!
  177. [Music.]