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SaraSolo Festival spotlights the creative possibilities of the individual performer

This year's lineup of brave solo performers offers something for everyone, from folk music to on-the-spot art creation.

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Performance usually means teamwork. But solo flights are often the most daring.

The SaraSolo Festival plugs into the power of one. Annie Morrison, the festival’s artistic director, can tell you all about it. She’s lost count of the times she’s had the stage to herself. She says it never gets old — or safe.

“You take the stage and you’re on your own,” she says. “There’s nobody else to rely on — it’s just you and the audience. It’s a very personal connection. And it can take audience and performers alike on a very special journey.”

Where do this year’s journeys go? Whatever your taste, chances are you’ll be satisfied. The festival’s current lineup offer everything from folk music to on-the-spot art creation. The main event unfolds at the Crocker Memorial Church on Jan. 27-28 and Feb. 3-4.

Jazz singer Diana Vytell will perform the world premiere her new cabaret show, “It’s About Time!”
Jazz singer Diana Vytell will perform the world premiere her new cabaret show, “It’s About Time!”

Morrison and Blake Walton, the festival’s associate artistic director, plan to stay busy between these action-packed weekends. They’ll offer six “Betwixt Week” happenings at The Reserve. Highlights include Morrison’s master class on cabaret vocal performance; Robert S. King’s theatrical storytelling workshop; and Walton’s crash course on writing one-person plays — “That’s My Story and I’m Sticking to It.”

Nineteen artists both local and global will perform. Their shows range from 45 to 90 minutes. (The timing is never predictable.)

Local luminaries include Steve McAllister, who recently stepped into Will Rogers’ boots at the Players Centre. He will revisit the beloved character with his original “Will Rogers Revived.” (Same folk charm, no rope tricks.) Painter Karle Murdock will collaborate with poet Gretchen Lum to create an illustrated book of poetry on stage. Cabaret performer Diana Vytell will sing about the ebb and flow of time itself.

Dan Leary will perform “The Sleeping Child,” a sideshow attraction play.
Dan Leary will perform “The Sleeping Child,” a sideshow attraction play.

National performers will be flying in for this year’s festival. Willie Carlile, the celebrated singer, monologist and Ozark folklorist, will regale audiences with an original tour-de-folk operetta on the life and hard times of an American folk singer. Cody Clark’s hypnotic show combines his deft mastery of the art of magic with insights on his experience with autism and what it means to have a brain that’s wired a little differently. Nisha Coleman, the Hermitage artist and shape-shifting storyteller, will speak of her life’s long strange trip. Her far-flung journey ranges from the rural Canada of her hippie childhood, to the boulevards of Paris, where she paid her dues as a street performer. Choreographer Elizabeth Bergmann will share her own voyage of self-discovery in an electrifying blend of dance and poetry. Dan Leary’s “The Sleeping Child” is a surrealistic sideshow attraction delving into the unquiet dreams of his inner child.

All that — but that’s not all. “Flying Solos” at the Starlite Room will premiere three theatrical works in progress by Carole Kleinberg, Peg Harvey and Kathryn Chesley. Back at the Crocker Church, “Elder Voices” will showcase the intimate reminiscences of people over the age of 85. “SaraSolo Jr.” will give young people their time in the spotlight. The pieces are all original, and all created by teenagers—with a little help from Morrison.

With so much going on, there’s no reason to stay home alone.





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