Even when she's the only one on stage, Linda Rodeck says she never feels like she’s going it alone.
The crowd is the Albuquerque performer's partner, regardless of whether they realize it. "The audience comes in with a particular kind of vibe," Rodeck posits. "They inform me, whether it's the way they walk in, the way they cough, the way they chatter or don't chatter. I always feel like they're with me."
Rodeck's improv piece, She Looks Like She’s Sleeping, is one of eight one-person performances that make up Summer Sol-O Fest at The Filling Station. All performers are from New Mexico and range in age from their mid-20s to 60s. Three are from Burque and two hail from Santa Fe.
Rodeck says the challenge of performing in a solo show is nothing compared to organizing a show by herself. "When I have to find a place and I have to fill the seats and do the PR, it leaves so little left for the performance," Rodeck says. "It's such a gift to walk into a place where they've said, Welcome."
Filling Station co-owner and Sol-O Fest producer Beth Bailey leads the aforementioned welcoming committee. She says several artists have come to her asking to rent her facility. Bailey says it can be tough for one person to raise the cash needed to borrow a theater space. "Our mission is to give the local artists a home and a place to share their voice," Bailey says. "We decided to create a vehicle so that multiple solo artists could come in."
"The audience is in for a roller coaster ride. It's a highly unique and high-quality performance."
Beth Bailey, Sol-O Fest Producer
The subject matter of the eight performances includes love, death, tubas and golf. The tone of the pieces can be serious or surreal, lighthearted or cathartic. "The audience is in for a roller coaster ride," Bailey asserts. "It's a highly unique and high-quality performance."
Rodeck doesn't want to give too much away about her piece, but she says it begins with a particular image that’s so evocative, it can trap an improviser into going in one direction. She rides the edge of that image, without speaking directly to it. "I don't know how to make that sound interesting," Rodeck admits. "But it can be wildly interesting."
The first few minutes of Rodeck's work are scripted, but after that, nobody, including Rodeck, knows what will happen. "Through movement, sound and narrative, it can be numerous stories that together make some kind of sense," Rodeck explains.
Even though all eyes are on her and she doesn't have a script or other actors to lean on, Rodeck says things always work out. "I worry about that stuff beforehand, but once I'm there, it just comes," Rodeck says. "Something's always happening. As an improviser, you just have to realize that."
Santa Fe's Judith Shotwell integrates harp music, singing and dramatic dialogue in Sailing By Night: Soundings. The inspiration for Shotwell's piece comes from her experience providing palliative music for hospice patients and their families. "I've had some extraordinary opportunities to be with people in a very close way during a sacred time of their lives," Shotwell says. "I've always wanted to find a way to express that and share the quality of that experience with a larger audience."
Shotwell plays multiple characters in the scripted play, which she will perform for the first time at Sol-O Fest. Sailing By Night also marks the theater veteran's first foray into solo artistry. "This is going to be a really new experience," Shotwell says. "It's a big opportunity to find out what it's like."