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Bathing in laughter, feeling cozy, warm and fuzzy...

"And what is this?" Diane Barnes holding compass in a production photo

No, not curled up in bed, though that is one of my favorite pass times!

In the theater!

Thursday morning was cold and rainy, not an auspicious day, though unlike the east coast, no cosmic bomb cyclone of a storm predicted. Just a wet, grey, Northern California kind of day.

But a special day for me; after a 3 plus week holiday hiatus, opening extended run of My Stroke of Luck at the Marsh San Francisco!!!!

Now, to digress a moment here about that holiday hiatus. Well needed, and well enjoyed. My holidays were wonderful, Takeshi home, seeing friends, family, reconnecting with dear old friends, making a few new ones, indulging in some great meals, catching up on sleep and life, counting my year end gratitudes.

But sadly, for a solo performer without a Marquee Name (that would be me) and not doing a biopic of a famous person (best way to break into the biz), the flip side of the performance coin is self promotion, the more shameless the better! Because without promotion, no audience; no audience, no show. Larger theaters have advertising budgets, and shows with a large cast and crew, many more sources of friends, family and fans to get the buzz going. But with a low budget, non-profit theater like The Marsh, featuring solo performers, the advertising budget is miniscule, and the artist pool is slim! Yes, a PR firm, Carla Befera & Co, handles press releases and outreach. And they booked me three radio interviews- YES! KGO with Maureen Langan, KALW with David Latulippe's Open Air and with KPFA's Nurse Rona, all of which were great fun and huge in terms audience response! And The Marsh handles poster and flier distribution, posts on social media and sends regular e-mailings.

But that is only the beginning of what is required. Each performer must do his or her own constant outreach: social media, email, handing out flyers, making phone calls, appealing to any special interest groups who might find the show of interest, or might help promote the show, following up leads, compiling reviews and updating web page, creating and posting video content, attending events that one otherwise might not to be in the mix, etc. In University, think they said, for every hour of class time, expect to spend 3 hours homework. Well, the ratio of time spent rehearsing and performing to promotion for a solo artist is way worse; it feels like for every hour of performance, it's 10 in outreach (yes, ten, not a typo)! Being extended is a thrill, an index of success, but also means reaching out again, because the time frame is now different.

As an introvert, promotion goes against my grain. But know I need to do it. Grateful that on the Fringe circuit with My Stroke of Luck, I learned a lot about self promotion, including cultivating some of that shamelessness. So I'm as methodical as I can be, averaging a few hours every day, some days 8-10 hours, others one. But 3 weeks of promotion with no performances- felt like a finals week that wouldn't end!

So, was eager for the show to resume!

Wednesday afternoon, back into my pre- performance routine. Healthy dinner with no cocktails or wine, run transitions, sound cues, sticky moments and difficult physical bits, then early to bed. Thursday, up early, check email, reply to FB messages and comments, post, walk dog in hiatus in rain, exercise (Zumba, though usually Pilates on Thurdsays). Then into the city for a special treat: interview with David Latulippe of Open Air, KALW's Weekly Radio Magazine of the Performing Arts. BTW, show opening interview was with Artistic Director Natalie Greene and performer Soren Santos of Mugwumpin, whose latest devised theater offering, In Event of Moon Disaster, sounds fascinating! Then home, lunch of main meal of day, nap, shower, pack snack, pack bag, prepare throat coat/ginger/honey tea and drive to the theater.

It's dark, rainy and cold, and I'm thinking, "Is anyone really going to leave their comfortable home, Netflix and Amazon Prime tonight? Would I if I didn't have to?" But I push those thoughts aside, run transition lines instead.

In the theater, I put on costume, make up, run sound check and cues, check my props, warm up body, vocal warm up, "5 minutes", then "places", then showtime! The music starts and I'm on.

And all else is forgot! The audience is rapt, warm, responsive, finding the usual laughs and a few more. And I'm finding some new moments. Suddenly, I hear downpour outside! But we are tucked into the theater, the audience and me, energized in community, bathing in laughter, feeling cozy, warm and fuzzy.

With gratitude for this life!

My Stroke of Luck at The Marsh, San Francisco, Jan 4-Feb 3Thursdays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 5 PM, Sunday 1/21 and 1/28 at 2 PM

Best Storytelling Script

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