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Solo Performance Workshop w/ W. Kamau Bell & Martha Rynberg
Stage Werx Theatre
San Francisco, CA
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Solo Performance Workshop w/ W. Kamau Bell & Martha Rynberg
Started in 2005, 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. Members of the workshop have gone on to perform their shows all over the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and recently The New York Fringe Theater Festival.


MARTHA RYNBERG came to solo performance on a whim and has been hooked ever since. Although she considers that her career began dancing on the top of a lounge piano for virgin Margaritas at teh age of three. Martha has been a member of The Solo Performance Workshop since it's second year of existence. In addition to creating several solo pieces of her own, she is the original director of the W. Kamau Bell Curve: Ending Racism in About an Hour. Under her watchful, collaborative, and supportive, eye, "The Curve" garnered praise from nearly every major local print media source, including The San Francisco Chronicle (Four Stars), The SF Weekly (Recommended), The SF Bay Guardian (Critic's Pick), and The East Bay Express (Critic's Choice).

Martha's own work explores the intersections of inheritance, parenting across racial lines, internalized misogyny, and adoptionism. And she has been described as the creative love-child of Jim Carrey and Carol Burnett.


W. KAMAU BELL understands even more than most comedians that timing is everything. Waaaaaaaaaaaay back in 2005 he appeared on Comedy Central and told his joke about the junior senator from Illinois and his chances of becoming the first black president. Comedy Central later announced that W. Kamau Bell had told the very first joke about Barack Obama. For this, Kamau was named on that networks list of Best 100 Obama Moments. Comedy Central also invited Kamau to perform his critically acclaimed solo show, The W. Kamau Bell Curve: Ending Racism in About an Hour, at their theater in Hollywood. The San Francisco Weekly honored Kamau as the Comedian of the Year in 2008 and also profiled him in a cover story in 2009.

And that's not everything. Kamau has appeared at the prestigious Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal, where he was the only comedian to perform at both the New Faces Show and Best of The Uptown Comics. Kamau spent two years appearing regularly on radio station Live 105 as half of the movie review team Siskel & Negro. (Kamau is Negro.) The duo can still be heard online at their podcast at Roof Top Comedy. And in addition to Comedy Central, Kamaus other TV appearances include Comics Unleashed, KQEDs Spark, ABCs View From The Bay, and Filter on G4. And since 2007, Kamau has been regularly performing his hit solo show, which he has been invited to perform at The 2009 New York International Fringe Festival. But Kamau is most proud of co-founding The Solo Performance Workshop (2005), a school for emerging artists. As a writer, Kamau is featured in the book What Would Bill Hicks Say?

Kamau has been profiled in several different newspapers, including four seperate occasions in The San Francisco Chronicle  even once (not ironically) during Black History Month. The San Francisco Weekly called Kamau smart, stylish, and very much in the mold of politically outspoken comedians like Dave Chappelle and Margaret Cho  though he was more excited that they called him handsome.


There are currently two sections Sundays at 10AM - 1pm beginning Sept 13th OR Tuesdays at 6PM - 9PM beginning Sept 15th

Location: Stage Werx Theatre 533 Sutter Street @ Powell Street, San Francisco, 94102

SoloHouse: Monthly Event Features Rotating Cast In One-Person Shows
San Francisco Chronicle

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.

"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
Thursday, August 30, 2007



Stage Werx Theatre
533 Sutter Street (@Powell)
San Francisco, CA 94102
United States

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


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