Spotlight Series: Meet Jessica Lynn Johnson, Founder and CEO of Soaring Solo


This Spotlight focuses on Jessica Lynn Johnson, proud founder and CEO of Soaring Solo LLC, a company dedicated solely to the direction and development of one person plays who has collaborated on well over 100 solo shows and is still going strong despite the current shutdown. And now she is offering free classes on ZOOM until it is possible to perform in a theater again.


Shari Barrett (SB): What would you like readers to know about your theatrical background?

Jessica Lynn Johnson (JLJ): Besides encouraging other solo artists to develop their own shows while operating my company Soaring Solo, I am also a solo artist myself and have toured for 13+ years with my own two award-winning one woman shows. I am also on the Board of the LA Women's Theatre Festival and we have been empowering diverse women's voices for nearly 3 decades!

Lastly, I would like everyone to know that I have taught a 100% FREE One Person Play Development Class for about a decade, and while this has primarily been at the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks, I have now taken my free class online via ZOOM. In addition, I also offer affordable and awesome coaching (one-on-one, small group, and power pair sessions) because as a solo artist myself I know how important it is to get valuable feedback at an affordable price.

(SB): What production(s) were you involved with when word went out you needed to immediately postpone/cancel the shows?

(JLJ): At any given time, I have 20-30 solo shows up and running with some making their world premiere and others simply continuing to tour since I work with my solo artists for years and help them tour internationally. All of that said, I had close to two dozen solo shows coming up that I directed and developed in three different festivals (Solofest 2020 at Whitefire Theatre, LA Women's Theatre Festival in March, and the Hollywood Fringe Festival in June). And of course, those have all been postponed.

Bryan Rasmussen at the Whitefire Theatre is such an innovative Artistic Director and had been perfecting the Live Stream experience of shows long before this COVID-19 pandemic took over. Therefore, he is planning to begin streaming shows as soon as mandates dictate this is possible. Many of my clients are excited to experiment with this new medium which is planned to begin in June.

(SB): How did you communicate the shutdown with your clients?

(JLJ): Every artist has handled the devastation of this moment differently. Therefore, some clients have processed this news with me on the phone, others have found texting and emailing the best way to process. And many have been partaking in my ongoing free online class, my coaching services, and my free daily Isolate Meditate Create experience, so events were discussed via all those options. My free guided meditation and writing sessions take place on ZOOM at 9am (PT) during the Stay at Home, with more information available on JessicaLynnJohnson.com.

All to say, this is such a challenging time and it is important to respect each person's nuanced way of handling this crisis and hold space for their feelings and the mode in which they feel comfortable engaging.

(SB) Are plans in place to present shows at a future date and how are you keeping the Arts alive during social distancing?

(JLJ): As an eternal optimist, I encourage my clients to "Never Give Up" and "Always Think Outside the Box". We must "Let Go of What Was" and step into the reality of "What Is." Suffice it to say, I am in discussion with several clients about the Live Streaming dates for those who were in the tail end of Solofest, and therefore unable to perform their shows when COVID-19 hit. I am also in discussion with those who would like to wait until we are able to gather in person at Whitefire to resume the production of their shows. I respect both choices.

As it stands right now, the Hollywood Fringe which is traditionally held in June has been postponed until October, and most people are eager to partake during this rescheduled time and I will be there to support them in the Fall.

The LA Women's Theatre Festival is also in talks about next steps to carry on with our programming, and our publicist Philip Sokoloff will certainly make an official statement on that once the Board has agreed upon appropriate next steps.

Lastly, I encourage everyone to TAKE CREATIVE ACTION right now since Art is more important than ever! After all, how many of us are getting through this challenging time by reading a good book, binging television shows and films, or tuning into content being streamed around the globe?  I hope the majority of us are nurturing our souls and entertaining our minds with Art to get through this day-to-day madness.

For example, recently my brilliantly talented client Dana Lynn and I hosted a ZOOM reading of her one-woman show Transcending the Mirror about her journey to accept and love herself as a lesbian woman, and we had 40 people tune in and give us incredible feedback to implement into the script.

We have moved all of our Soaring Solo LLC services online, and I have also transferred all of my coaching services and my 100% free One Person Play Development class to ZOOM so that we can all continue with our Art and not be stopped by this virus. I like to say kill the coronavirus and NOT creativity! As such, I am still coaching solo artists in the development and direction of their one-person plays from the comfort of their living room, offering One-on-One coaching, small group coaching featuring 6 solo artists at a time, and Power Pairs where two artists work together with me on larger excerpts of their solo shows.

With all the fear and uncertainty in the world right now, I know many people appreciate something else to focus on besides the virus and I want to provide that much needed creative outlet for them. And for those who are financial strained and cannot afford my paid services, I have got their back too, offering my 100% free One-Person Play development class on Saturday mornings, as well as my free guided meditation and writing sessions on ZOOM daily at 9am (PT). For more information on my free class and my paid services, please visit www.JessicaLynnJohnson.com

Yes, we need to keep our physical bodies healthy right now, but our mind, heart and spirit need to stay healthy too. Creative expression is a HUGE part of that overall wellness. This is a season for pioneers, innovators, and trailblazers to come forward and take the lead. We all need to think outside of the box and find ways to serve and connect and share our Art like never before. Yes, it is sad that we cannot perform in a theater at this moment in time, but desperation often breeds ingenuity. So, turn that negativity into new ways of creatively expressing yourself and connecting with others. There are true possibilities here if we can let go of the old and step into the new.

Stay healthy, stocked, safe and healthy everyone. We will get through this together!


This article first appeared on Broadway World.



JOAN OF ART: Under The Big Top, Flamenco, One Women Show With Music and a Seance

This week has a diverse amount of activities...even one of the unworldly kind.

I'll start with one that first appeared in Los Angeles in 1987 during the Los Angeles Festival. It was the opening night of the Festival and since that time Cirque Du Soleil has blown the minds of everyone including myself who has had the good fortune of seeing everyone of their incredible shows.

Well good news is that they are back in town with their new show VOLTA at Dodger Stadium. VOLTA is based on extreme sports; the principal character is a game show contestant named Was. It is the company's 41st production since it began and it's the 18th show presented under the Big Top.

VOLTA tells a spellbinding story about the freedom to choose and the thrill of blazing your own trail. It's the story of transformation. It is about being true to oneself, fulfilling one's true potential and the power of the group to make that possible. It celebrates the freedom of movement and creativity. I can promise you that this show will not only be spectacular but as many of their shows do, will tug at your heart strings.

I for one can't wait to see this new production and if you would too then go to CirqueDuSoleil.com/volta for tickets and more information. The Show runs January 18th until March 8th.

Dodger Stadium is located at 1000 Vin Scully Avenue in LA 90012.

Now I absolutely love dance. I've studied modern and jazz for years. The one thing I've never tackled despite my deep admiration of the form is FLAMENCO. Luckily I get to attend The Ultimate Flamenco Dinner Show on Saturday January 18th in Long Beach.

Full of passionate dance and vibrant guitar playing, Andalusia native La Sole-Yvette Garcia's artistically diverse show encompasses the culturally rich, technically intricate art of flamenco.

But that's not all. Along with an evening's worth of exceptional entertainment, you'll enjoy Algeria's delicious Spanish and Latin American cuisine which includes classic dishes and deserts. Food and dance...What could be better?

I've been here before and I can promise the cuisine is delicious and the dancing sensational.

Performances start at 7:30pm and run throughout the year. For tickets and more information go to AlegriaCocinaLatina.com. The restaurant is located at 115 Pine Avenue in Long Beach 90802.

Next the WHITEFIRE THEATRE is presenting SOLOFEST 2020, a celebration of the solo journey. I've been an actress for many years but never even attempted to do a solo show because for me, being alone on the stage, is over the top scary. Having said that, I have incredible admiration for those people that do it and pull it off.

I've seen many one person shows at this theatre and all of them have been excellent. Their first show appropriately entitled LADIES FIRST started on January 4th and will be running on the 18th, 25th, 12th, 19th, 26th and February 1st and 8th.

Ladies First is a one woman musical written by Krisy Dennis and Bob Garret and performed by Krisy Dennis.

The show celebrates 14 amazing women from the original suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst to feminist activists Katharine Hepburn and Nora Ephron. Their monologues are inspired by speeches, quotes and interviews with these great women.

Krisy also sings songs by artists such as Alicia Keys, Kate Bush, and Stephen Sondheim.

The Whiteface Theatre is located at 13500 Ventura Blvd in Sherman Oaks 91423. For tickets and more information go to WhitefireTheatre.com.

 

Lastly if ghosts are your thing then you must see WHISPERS IN THE DARK where they promise you will find some. This is an Unsolved Murder Séance.

There's a long buried mystery that's been waiting to resurface and they need you to help them solve the crime. This is an immersive experience that will take you on a journey into an unknown world of ghosts and spirits (hopefully friendly ones) that will leave everyone gasping for breath as messages, sights, and sounds emerge from the shadows.

I love to be scared so this sound like the perfect place for me to be this weekend. If you would like a seat at the Séance Table then drive or Uber over to the MAGICOPOLIS located at 1418 4th Street in Santa Monica, where the séance is taking place.

To buy tickets and for more information go to IHearWhispers.com.

Most importantly, whatever you choose to do this weekend, make it a fun one. I know I will.