Mar 21, 2019

Solo Performance Lessons from Ruth Draper | Histrionic Kablooie

As a contemporary solo performer I have a great deal of appreciation for Ruth Draper, iconic solo theatre performer of the first half of the 1900s. She was often billed as "Ruth Draper and Her Company of Characters." For thirty-seven years she performed alone, on an empty stage, with a hat or shawl, and perhaps a table or chair. The nearly sixty character sketches she carried around in her memory through all those years, which she performed in repertory, were solely of her own imagining and ranged from satirical comedy, to sentimental melodrama to heart-rending tragedy. She spoke multiple languages (and performed in multiple languages) and traveled the globe, presenting her monologues on every inhabited continent. She was organized and frugal, but tasteful and sophisticated. She traveled alone and kept her own reciepts and negotiated her own contracts. Her influence and fandom has been monumental: Mike Nichols, Lily Tomplin, Katharine Hepburn, John Gielgud, Uta Hagen, George Bernard Shaw, Noel Coward, Arturo Toscanini, John Lithgow, Simon Callow and on and on... Histrionic Kablooie is a YouTube series where I talk about different aspects of theatre and performance.

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