Guest blogger Tina A. Burkhalter shares her experiences from the process of writing and performing her one-woman show, which she co-produced with Project La Femme and The Wayward Artists. If you missed Tina's incredible story on stage, do you best to catch her the next time around!
I first met the ladies of Project La Femme, Katie Chidester, Andrea Freeman, and Amber Scott, while doing the #WomenGetLoud event for International Women’s day. This event was a wonderful event empowering women to tell story…or whatever story that they felt they wanted to “get loud” about because they could no longer hold it in. I decided to do an excerpt from one of my solo shows “The Common Denominator” and read a poem from by book of poetry (that can be found on Amazon.com) “This Is Me.” After the show was over, Katie mentioned to me that she wanted to work with me on the show….that was in March. Fast forward a few weeks later, Craig Tyrl and Sarah Ripper from The Wayward Artist Theatre Company asked me if I would be interested in doing both of my solo shows, the other show being “The Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction.” I immediately said yes and thought of Katie to direct it. We eventually met with Craig and set a date and got to work. I was excited and overwhelmed at the same time because I just got a new job in Louisiana…so now I had to not only rehearse for my show…I also had to pack to move across the country. Oh and did I also mention I had only written the first half of my second show…so I had to finish writing that as well. But I was living my dream and up for the task.
Katie and I began rehearsals toward the end of May which gave me about a month for rehearsal. “The Common Denominator” was my thesis project so I had previously performed it with another director. It was important to me that I did not discuss what I had done before with Katie because I wanted to see what she would bring to the table. I also did not want people who had seen it before to feel like they watched the same show again. I immediately felt like that would not be the case. Katie was a set of fresh new eyes who brought a new perspective on the show and I loved it. She challenged me to see the show through a different lens. This was important to me because having written this dramatic piece, and lived it, my lenses could be a little foggy and jaded. Then came the second show “The Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction.” Where the first show was a dramatic piece…this one is definitely a comedy. This was also the first time I had ever done this show. It was great to have a release from the first show…I am sure the audience would agree.
Having written and performed the show was a feat within itself…but I was also a producer on the show. That was my first time as a producer. However Project La Femme was my saving grace. I am sure I annoyed all of them at some point and time…because I asked a lot of questions. I asked a lot of questions because it was my first time producing a show (I knew it would not be my last) so I wanted to get as much information as I could about who/what/when/where/why. We had a few meeting to discuss the semantics and when I got too involved (especially during rehearsal/tech) Katie could sense my stress and would tell me to put on my actor hat…lol. That was exactly what I needed because at some point I have to stop worrying about ticket sales and sponsors and start getting myself ready for opening night.
Then opening night comes around and we had our opening night gala which was great!!!! We were able to get several gifts from great sponsors in Santa Ana and Fullerton. Gay Ole Time Events catered the event…opening night had the biggest audience for the three night event. It was great. My mother and sister were able to attend from San Antonio, TX. The Wayward Artist had a videographer to record the performance. I am ALWAYS nervous right before I step on stage…but when I get on stage…I transform that nervous energy and give it to my performance. The feedback from the audience was great! People came to me and told me that they cried and laughed…and appreciated my truth, honesty, and humor of the performance.
All in all it was a fantastic experience. We produced enough where no expenses came out of pocket and we were able to turn a profit. Not too shabby…it was my first professional theatre project/performance outside of grad school. That was special to me…but the fact that I was a producer of my first professional theatre project…was priceless to me. I learned things that I will take with my onto the next project/performance I produce. I could not have done it alone…the ladies of Project La Femme, Katie, Andrea, and Amber taught me sooooo much and were very patient with me…lol. I hope to work with them again one day…and if you haven’t gotten a chance to work with them…you should.