As a young person, whenever I was involved in theater as an actor I became restless and claustrophobic. I might have lost my path in theater, in fact, if not for random individuals who cajoled, enticed, dragged, pushed me back into theater off and on for 20 years until one Sunday night, I saw a performance poet on TV and knew that I wanted to be able to perform solo, put a whole world into my body and recreate that world on stage so audience could be my captives and see things the way I saw them.
But that’s not the way it works if you don’t want to totally suck as a solo performer.
I found that out immediately upon performing a piece that I’d written (after many rewrites, Finding the Golden Thread) onstage by myself the first time. I felt more like the servant than the master. I knew right away that not only is the audience not there for you, the audience creates as much energy in the room, fills the air with as much subtext as you (hopefully) do. In other words, the audience/solo performer relationship is a mutual exchange. As a performer, you owe your audience.
That is one of the most important things I know.