A large theatre production requires a team effort with contributions not only from the actors on stage, but also from many others, usually including a director, set designer, lighting designer, sound designer, technical director, props manager, house manager and many others. But what about a one-person show, with only a solo actor on stage using a minimal set, costume, lighting and props? UMBC senior Theatre major Jessica Ruth Baker chose to explore this question for her 2011-2012 undergraduate research project, wanting “to explore the challenge of performing a solo show and to understand the difference between that and working with a group.”
Her project culminated in performances of I Was Bigfoot’s Love Slave: A Christian Multi-media Experience by Barbara Ulrich.
What insights have you gained from your research?
When I first decided that I would create a research project about designing and performing in a solo show, I had no idea where to begin, and was relying only on myself. However, as I worked closely with my mentor [Professor Lynn Watson] and with other faculty, including my director, I learned that this was in fact a collaborative effort no matter what. I also learned from audiences after the performance that everyone experiences a play differently, and the lessons an audience member learned from Bigfoot are far different—but no less valuable—than what I perceived to be the message of the show. These are the best things about theatre: collaboration and individual experience. That’s what makes it unique.
What are your plans for after UMBC?
After UMBC, I will continue pursuing work as a professional actor, as well as break into the costume and scenic design field of professional theatre. One day, I hope to go to graduate school and achieve my doctorate, but for now, I just want to do what I’m good at, and what I love, as much as I can.
Jessica will present excerpts from Bigfoot at 1:30 p.m. in Fine Arts Building Studio A.