Category Archives: Words from my Caveshop participants

A Letter to the Apprentices, by Lisa Dring


Hi new babes,

I got to meet some of you this summer, but for those I haven’t: welcome. It’s been such a joy looking at your headshots. You guys are like newer, firmer, definitely taller versions of us. Us 2.0! To business…

Annie. Annie! Annie will help you get to the center of yourself, of what you want to say, but you need to show up. She’s a magnet for truth and raw life and she’ll completely open your heart if you let her.

Find her. Annie’s in Louisville for such a short time, you have to make an effort to go to pull her aside at the picnic or go to her hotel at the end of a 12-hour tiresome crew-filled day and talk about your work. I went through a few days of feeling so insecure in my writer/creator voice that I didn’t want to take up her time, but your story is worth it. No matter what it is.

This is true with so many experiences you’ll have this season, but push through the ‘oh this is stressful where is all my time oh my god so vulnerable!’ of everything your doing. Push to the, ‘holy shit, I’m being given time, space, mentors, people to create with, an audience, and the chance to show my humanity onstage.’ What I loved so much about seeing my fellow apprentices’ solo work is how much of their hearts just bled into everything they did. When you take a playwright’s piece, you put yourself into another story and the audience sees a blend of those voices. Now you get to put your own heart into your own story. Pure, unfiltered you. First cold press.

You may find yourself shirtless laying on top of a sewing machine pretending to bang someone after talking about your dead grandma and then be like, oh crap, I’ve got to go to crew. And later while you’re curling wigs or cleaning steel you’ll be like, what’s going on? Who am I? WHAT IS THIS CRAZY PLACE? Trust that vulnerability and weirdness. Keep writing.

If you hate it, you never have to make solo work after the program. But give this your all because you’ll never know otherwise. I know this may sound like hippie BS but it healed me, in so many ways.

Love you mudda truckas,


Anytime, seriously:

also on ye olde facebook




Hi guys!
How’s the year so far?????  Can’t wait to meet you all during Humana. 

So now you know all about magic and love and bravery from Annie Lanzillotto. And now you get to write.  and rehearse. and re write. and perform…SOLO MIOS! 
Go forth!  She loves you guys, told me so herself. All sparkly eyed.

She asked me to write to you guys to put the experience into context.  And I had forgotten (the way we blessedly forget how frozen with terror we were to do things after they go well) how confusing the whole idea was to me. Does it have to be a story?  Does it have to be true? Does it have to be (da da daaaaaa) PERFORMANCE ART?? I know it seems like they are speaking Greek when they say “You can do whatever you want.” but you really can. And that’s hard.  Limits help.  But you do have limits.   Remember 7 minutes is very short.  Annie helped you all generate material, right?   Look back at your notes, at your caves, you’ve all done a solo mio already with her. 

Write as long a damn first draft as you please, and then go back and try and see what you are maybe trying to say. Mine was an off the cuff tiny story.  I came into her class having NOTHING. Thinking, I’ll do a heart wrenching piece about love and loss or something.  Nope, Annie took one look at me and said I was free and funny and needed to be sexy.  So from there I told a story in class about a silly thing I did once while distracted on public transit.  I got into it and jumped around, I cracked myself up, I realized this little story told everyone exactly where I was at for the last year in my life. And the story stuck with me becasue I didn’t know it was a story until I told it.  So I wrote a 4 page draft, then took a (literal) red marker to it, and cut and cut, then used my director and dramaturg, (and use them!!!  The directors loves you and won’t have the tunnel vision you may get stuck in, the dramaturg has listened to it over and over, and Jess’ gentle feedback changed the course of my piece…and she also pointed out some (shameful!) grammar issues with my tenses.)

And you know what?  I got nervous, but I was nervous as a playwright.  And that had never happend to me before.  I was thinking “Can this actress get this right?  Can she tell my story as well as it deserves to be told?”  Well, can you believe it,  the actress was me, so after lots of talks between us, I convinced my selves I could.  But the discourse was kind of thrilling.  And made me believe in my abilities as a writer and performer. At the very least, it was a new thing for me. 

Guys, It’s great to do your solo mios now because you can do anything after you do your solo mios.  And this year demands a lot of you.  I hope you’re all eating right and sleeping (and knowing how fabulous you are for landing this gig).  Have you joined the Y?  Do it.  And take Dance Fitness with Sonny on Wednesdays.

So just go balls out, tell a story that can live in 7 minutes from start to finish.  Break our hearts, make us laugh, or just make us cock our heads.  Figure out what tiny little thing you’d like the audience to do, get um in the palm of your hand, and do it.

Side note: On a whim during Humana (you’ll be most productive when busiest and stressed out, I found) I submitted a DVD of my train story (Ask Phil or the media Intern to cut your solo mio from the whole night DVD for you) and it got picked for this women’s solo festival in New York next month.  Annie is gonna help me tweak it.  They just asked me if I had any tech, and I was so happy to say NOPE! So keep it simple.  It’s more bad ass that way, anyway.  And submit it for festivals when you’re all done.

If you want I can send you my first draft then my final draft so you can see how much it changed, but what stayed the same.  Or for formatting?  I love formatting.  It’s a story in itself.

PLEASE call me with questions, email me with questions, facebook me with questions.  Facebook me anyway.  We’re family now, we should be facebook friends.  Even though being facebook friends with your family is awkward.  My dad keeps posting on my wall that he loves me and I’m like DAD. THIS IS PUBLIC.  IT’S NICE, BUT COME ON. 

Listen to Amy and Michael.  They love you.  Sheesh thanks for reading this far down.  I should undertand how busy you all are and written less.  Oh well.

HAPPY SOLOING!!  I was getting nervous about my show next month and Annie said to me “You have to do it, Em. You have to show them your magnitude.”

So… show them your magnitude, guys.


Actors Theatre of Louisville, Apprentice Company 2010