“Thoughts on Developing a Solo Show and Creating your own Work”



Going into the second run of my solo show “A Touchy Subject” leaves me feeling accomplished, lucky and (for lack of a better word)….icky. Not a feeling you would guess being that I’m about to have a stage all to myself for 50 minutes. Every actors dream right? Truth is, I felt this way during the first run as well. People would ask me days before “Are you so excited?!” I’d faint a reluctant “Yeah….!” Of course it’s an amazing opportunity and yes I want to show off my work, but the truth of the matter is that the amount of vulnerability going into a solo project makes it difficult to jump for joy. Sharing your work is just as daunting as reading your fifth grade diary out loud. Even if the whole thing is hilarious, it’s still your own personal insecurities, thoughts, feelings, and short comings being flaunted for whoever buys a ticket to see. That’s scary.

When first writing this show, it was bits on bits on bits. I wrote all my characters as funny as I possibly could and I didn’t really think twice about it. It’s going up at Second City. It’s a comedy show. It’s supposed to be all laughs right? My director, Jonald Reyes took one read and said….”Yeah but where’s the heart?” Puzzler. I didn’t think much about the heart. Why? Because my good ol’ human shield was up to protect it. Writing a show about being an actor was difficult enough for me to grasp. Acting in a show about being an actor? Really Kelly? That’s all there is to you? It took a while, and a lot of self-talk to say to myself “No, of course that’s not all there is to me. However, this is where the majority of my vulnerability comes from and there are so many issues for women in the industry that I know I can bring to light.” Still though, I couldn’t get my heart in. It took a couple rewrites before I delved deep into my old journals, pictures, various resources to find the roots that got me to this point. What culminated from this was a funny, ridiculous, heartbreaking, very human show I am proud of.

Here’s what I want to say: being vulnerable is not exciting. Not for me at least. It’s terrifying, but that makes it brave and that’s a feeling I can get on board with. If I were just excited to share my work with the world, I’d be worried about the material. Creativity without heart is depriving it and everyone else of its true potential. Because if our stories can reach someone else and effect change, well that’s pretty damn cool. At the end of the day, isn’t that kind of the point?

Published by Kelly Tietjen

Chicago gal offering my own take on self development, creativity, mental health and more.

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