SOLO TAKES ON 2: A Festival of One-Person Shows Swain Hall, UNC Chapel Hill Jan. 25-30
“One of the first things I ever did in my career that just exploded—kaboom!—was a one-person show called MEN ON THE VERGE OF A HIS-PANIC BREAKDOWN,” director Joseph Megel recalls during a rehearsal for the second season of SOLO TAKES ON, a festival of solo performances this week in Swain Hall at UNC Chapel Hill. Megel speaks with some authority on the genre; under his direction, BREAKDOWN had award-winning runs in Los Angeles and off-Broadway in New York.
“So let’s put it on the table—solo performance can be deadly,” he asserts. “It can be boring and lot of talk. But when it’s done well, it can be one of the most exciting types of performances for an audience, an incredibly intense and intimate experience that engages with them in more personal ways than they might be in a regular stage play, and asks more of them.”
Curating the three one-person shows that make up this year’s festival has meant mentoring a current graduate student and a recent graduate from the Performance Studies program as they’ve developed new scripts exploring the sexuality of drinking bourbon in the South and interrogating the conventions of psychotherapy in the aftermath of sexual assault. It’s also meant hosting visiting artist, playwright and monologist Carlos Manuel, who’s show LA VIDA LOCA probes the culturally schismatic experiences of a gay Hispanic immigrant within the frame of the tale of “La Llorona,” the “crying woman” in Mexican folklore.