Alone in the Lab
FronteraFest gives solo performers plenty of room to experiment
By Dan Solomon, Fri., Jan. 13, 2012
The first time she performed a solo show in FronteraFest's Long Fringe, Annie La Ganga wasn't really going solo. "I had two different people help me. They were my directors, kind of," she says, "and I was thinking about how I was going to make people interested, so I made a rehearsal schedule over a few weeks. And then I invited people whom I didn't know very well, whom I thought were really smart, and I asked them if they would come see my rehearsal and give me notes."
The result, for La Ganga, was a slew of critical feedback on the material she was developing for her improvised, one-woman show Let's Make Love Tonight! and a whole group of people who now considered themselves stakeholders in her show's success. "That was smart, right?" she laughs.
It's a clever approach to one of the biggest challenges that a solo performer faces when trying to fill a room for the Long Fringe at FronteraFest. While so many of the annual performance festival's signature pieces have been one-person shows, the fact is that a piece with an ensemble onstage and a crew tends to have a built-in audience; a dozen people involved in the show means a dozen people's friends, families, and fans are likely to show up. But for the performances that involve a single person onstage, the pressure is on to get people to turn out.
[image: Bret Brookshire via the Austin Chronicle]