Solo Performance and Minority Practitioners

Ria Hartley

We want to change and diversify artistic cultural practices in the UK and we are testing out the area of solo performance to see if and how it can do this. We will make the work of existing solo practitioners who are mixing it up more visible, using spoken-word poetry, stand-up comedy, theatre and live art, video and film, dance, MC-ing to speak out their stories, life narratives, experiences, desires and passions. Diverse solo work is out there, and we aim to find it, support it, promote it, and inspire young people to work more with it. The work of the Solo Contemporary Performance Forum over the past 14 years has revealed that solo performance can be a particularly good platform for people from diverse backgrounds to become more visible: solo is fast, solo is direct, solo is for entrepeneurs - and solo connects directly to you, the audience.

We are making a funding bid to the AHRC for this collaborative project between Falmouth University, the SCPF, and Glasgow University. In it, we will engage in a number of activities. These include compiling a minority solo Practitioner Directory, carrying out an initial scoping survey of current solo practices, opportunities and platforms, conducting in-depth practitioner interviews and distributing this information through a series of podcasts and posters on social media. A platform called Solo Dialogues will be curated throughout the life of the project; a series of live, public conversations where minority solo practitioners and people engaged with them will be invited to come and speak about their work.

The lead researchers will also curate performance platforms of professional solo work, hosting these same key practitioners from the different genres and inviting young school leavers and recent graduates to attend free performances, followed by workshops where dialogue and mentoring will take place. Misri Dey, the lead researcher, will contribute to the theatre and social media groups though her own professional solo work, testing out the research process and support mechanisms being put in place for minority professional practitioners. She is an experienced solo performer and director of the Solo Contemporary Performance Forum, an organisation that supports solo theatre makers. Stephen Greer is a lecturer in Theatre Practices at the School of Culture and Creative Arts, University of Glasgow. He writes and publishes frequently on contemporary British and European theatre and performance, specializing in the interdisciplinary field of queer theory and performance.