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Solo Performance Workshop w/ W. Kamau Bell
The Phoenix Theatre
San Francisco, CA
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Solo Performance Workshop w/ W. Kamau Bell
This 8 session course is designed to develop 15-20 minute professional level solo theater pieces using a variety of writing and performance techniques. Each student will create a unique and personal performance piece that will culminate in a public theater performance at the end of the course. The class is recommended for performers of all disciplines, including actors, writers, comedians, spoken word artists, musicians and dancers. People of all levels of experience are welcome, from those who have never been on stage before to those preparing a piece for a professional production or audition.

Sign up through Brown Paper Tickets and receive an hour of free consultation w/ Kamau to help prepare for the class.

Recently the class was featured in following article from The San Francisco Chronicle's 96 Hours Section.

SoloHouse: Monthly event features rotating cast in one-person shows

by Reyhan Harmanci

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The world of stand-up comedy is brutal. The fight to make an audience laugh, and then keep people roaring, means getting onstage nightly to try out material and hone the act.

And W. Kamau Bell, a comic who's been on Comedy Central and who is a frequent opener for Dave Chappelle, loves stand-up. But a few years ago, friend and solo performer Bruce Pachtman ("Don't Make Me Look Too Psychotic") asked him for advice on his show. Their discussions eventually gave Bell a director's credit on the production, and through Pachtman he began teaching solo-performance classes at the Shelton Theater.

Beginning Sunday, Bell will host and direct SoloHouse, a monthly night of solo performance work, with Enzo Lombard ("Love, Humiliation and Karaoke"). It will have a rotating cast - this time, it'll be Leslie Beam (""), Bucky Sinister (comic, spoken-word specialist), Ericka Lutz (editor of "Literary Mama" and blogger of "Red Diaper Dharma") and Thao Nguyen (master's degree holder in public health from UC Berkeley). Performers will be onstage about 15 minutes at a time.

"The thing with stand-up is that the onus is always on entertainment value, and that is judged on solely by laughs," Bell says. "And then solo performance backed away so much from entertaining that it tends to be focused on venting or releasing personal demons on the audience.

"My thing is, you can do that, but it has to be entertaining," Bell says, adding that solo performances can produce tears and laughs in the same act.

Bell says his time is now split between stand-up and solo performance. He postponed a move to New York to focus on solo performance; he initiated SoloHouse, and has a solo show, "The W. Kamau Bell Curve," beginning in October.

Bell sees solo performance as a wide-open field. "The thing that's compelling to me about solo performance is what was great about stand-up in the '70s - there are no rules. Stand-up now - don't get me wrong, I still love it - there's a lot more rules," he says. "Richard Pryor could get onstage and act and show what it's like to nod out on heroin. That's not hilarious, but it's certainly interesting. Bill Cosby could work by taking his time and painting slow character pieces. Now you have to be funny every moment.

"In England they don't separate one-man shows from stand-up. Ultimately, if we throw this all together, it's the same: a person on a stage who's trying to entertain, with just their mouth and their words."

- Reyhan Harmanci

About The Facilitator: W. Kamau Bell has been a Bay Area comedian, writer, and director for more than ten years. Kamau is a favorite at Cobbs Comedy Club, The Punch Line, The Porchlight Storytelling Series, and is half of Siskel & Negro on Live 105. Kamau has appeared at The Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal, on Comedy Centrals Premium Blend, and Byron Allens Comics Unleashed. Also he is featured in The Soft Skull Press publication What Would Bill Hicks Say? Kamau has been profiled in The San Francisco Chronicle on three separate occasions, including not ironically during Black History Month. Goldstar Events said that Kamau is "without a doubt among San Francisco's most thoughtful and innovative comics". The SF Weekly called him smart, stylish, and very much in the mold of politically outspoken comedians like Dave Chappelle and Margaret Cho, although he was more excited that they called him handsome. However Kamau is most proud of being the leader of The Solo Performance Workshop.



The Phoenix Theatre
414 Mason Street @ Geary
San Francisco, CA 94102
United States



Minimum Age: 18
Kid Friendly: No
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: No
Wheelchair Accessible: No


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