Month: June 2014

Second Go Solo! workshop


Clockwise from back left: Edward DeCesare, Mark Anthony Esau, Sandra from Hilldrop Community Centre, Willow Powling, David Benson and Laura Njoku

Huge thanks to my class of gifted students, for making the second of my Go Solo workshops such a happy, exciting and productive three hours. We could have gone on a lot longer. I am learning invaluable lessons with each class, in particular that whatever information I wish to impart during the class usually comes out one way or another without my adhering to a rigid structure, simply by stimulating uninhibited conversation and attentive listening. All today’s students contributed with insight and candour and made the session fly by, with a little help from Ruth Draper and Kenneth Williams.

More to come soon.

“Three hours that will make a massive improvement on every level to the way my project turns out. Brilliantly encouraging to me, artistically and personally.” Alison Child

A wonderfully inspiring afternoon – thank you.”  Sara Louise Campbell

There are still places left for tomorrow’s second free Go Solo! workshop. Don’t miss this opportunity to sample the specialist care and knowledge that David Benson brings to these unique and entertaining workshops. All welcome, just register using the form below.

hilldrop mapHilldrop Community Centre

Community Lane,

Hilldrop Road,

London N7 0JE

click on map for more venue details

Second FREE Go Solo! Workshop Sat 28th 2-5pm

A reminder that the Second Go Solo! workshop will be taking place this Saturday at the Hilldrop Community Centre fro  2-5pm.

Whilst the turn-out for last Saturday’s was small, it was an engrossing, uninhibited meeting of minds, full of ideas and honesty and good spirits.

If you would like to join this Saturday’s class, please use the form below, giving me an idea of what you are working on or what you would like to explore in the class.

A wonderfully inspiring afternoon Sara

‘…still buzzing… gave me so much to think about and so many tips and ideas.’ Alison

Hilldrop Community Centre

Community Lane,

Hilldrop Road,

London N7 0JE

click on map for more venue details

hilldrop map


First ‘Go Solo!’ Workshop Report

Go Solo is now officially launched with the inaugural class today at Hilldrop Community Centre. Thanks to the unfortunate unavoidable rescheduling, only two of the original eight intake was able to be present – but they were choice! Alison and Sara both came brimming with ideas of their own for work they are developing and were lively and receptive students.

Sara and Alison talked honestly and with passion about their respective projects and I have no doubt they will produce superb results, not because of anything I taught them but because they have clear visions and performance deadlines. Sara is working on her comedy act Sara With An ‘L’ for the Camden Head in September, while Alison is working with her partner Rosie on an exploration of the loves and songs of the Drag Kings of the British Music Hall, for the Salisbury Fringe in October.

I should add that were joined by an nice, talkative lady from the centre, who had come in to load up the dishwasher and decided to drop her bags and sit in for a while. Though an unexpected addition, she proved a worthy and informative contributor to the afternoon.

I talked of course about myself, in detail. There is no right way to create your own work, only intuition, honesty and the determination to say what you want to say, in your own way. As Quentin Crisp said to me, when I told him over one the several three-hour cups of coffee I shared with him in New York, and which he professed never to remember from one to the next, that I was planning my first solo show but had no script nor director: “You don’t need a director, you don’t need a script, you only need to know what it is you want to say and go there and say it.”

The main part of the class was devoted to my theatrical herione Ruth Draper (1884-1956) the great American monologuist, ruth20swho has influenced so much of my own technique, from Think No Evil of Us – My Life With Kenneth Williams to Lockerbie: Unfinished Business. I am always delighted to introduce new listeners to the rare recordings of this extraordinary woman’s work and this afternoon concentrated on her signature ‘mono-drama’ A Scottish Immigrant At Ellis Island, in which she portrays a 21-year old lass from Crianlarich arriving after a long steamer trip, saying endless goodbye’s the many friends she has made and searching the vast, heaving crowds for sight of her long-separated fiance Sandy whom she has come out to marry. All this portrayed in eight minutes of urgent, focused and naturalistic acting by a seventy year old actress, who had performed it countless times to enthralled worldwide audiences for over forty years, along with sixty-odd other dramas she created for her invisible ensemble.

drapercriterionflyer – this flyer for a mid-1950s six-week season at the Criterion Theatre in London, one of her annual London seasons, shows how Ruth Draper planned a week of performances of virtuosic variety, so that one could go to the theatre almost every day and see a different programme of brilliant, varied, funny and ruth54moving solo theatre. This was a programming device she maintained during decades of worldwide touring, always to packed houses and rave reviews, even in non-English speaking countries. To my knowledge this is an unparalleled achievement for a solo performer. It is a sadness to me that her work has been so quickly forgotten but in the absence of film of her at work and only rare recordings to rely on, it is up to me and others who revere her to keep spreading the Word of Ruth!

More about Ruth Draper and CDs of her 1954-55 RCA Studio recordings

Dropbox downloadable files of Draper recordings (including my 2002 BBC R2 programme on Draper, produced by the late, much-missed Jonathan James Moore and containing extremely rare BBC recordings of Draper) and documents (including a PDF fascimile of the book The Art of Ruth Draper, containing her transcribed performance texts; and David Mamet’s 2003 essay in which he pays tribute to her monodrama A Scottish Immigrant)

I finished by demonstrating Draper’s influence on my own work, with an extract from the Italian Restaurant scene from Think No Evil of Us, always a pleasure to perform.

Many thanks to all participants, I found it most invigorating and interesting first session.

For those that were unable to make today’s class, there will be another FREE class next Saturday 2-5pm at the Hilldrop Community Centre.



Rescheduled Free Workshop

KW DB TNEOUI am delighted to confirm that the first Go Solo workshop, postponed from last Saturday, will now take place this Saturday 21st – with another scheduled for Saturday 28th for those who can’t make that one – from 2-5pm at Hilldrop Community Centre.

There are still places available for this free event, so if you have a solo project or an idea you are working on, either for stage, public speaking or even your own self-development, join us!


Notice: Free Workshop postponed!

Alas, the Free workshop scheduled for Saturday 14th June has had to be postponed as a result of unforseen circumstances and will be rescheduled for – hopefully – the following Saturday. Participants have been informed and the new date will be made public as soon as I have it.


First three students

number-3-mdI am delighted to announce that I have had three quick sign-ups for the Free Workshop on Saturday 14th. That means seven places still available.

To be honest, my first three students are all so interesting and enthusiastic, that I could happily do the class just with them. However, I am assured that take-up for events such as this generally happens nearer the date, so I am expecting a flurry of applications as the 14th draws near!

Hasty update: make that four

Free Go Solo! Workshop 14th June with David Benson

KW DB TNEOUI am delighted to announce that I am hosting my first Go Solo event, for ten participants only on Saturday 14th June 2-5pm in North London.                 FREE INTRODUCTORY WORKSHOP – venue details

The class is intended as a special three-hour introduction to my particular curriculum, part-lecture, part-workshop exploring the many ways of creating and performing solo work.

My aim is to encourage and inspire confidence in anyone wishing to explore their potential, in a supportive and fun atmosphere, for solo performance – whether for professional performance, public speaking or simply boosting self-confidence.

The only criterion for enrolment to one of the ten places available is that you are expected to bring to the class a piece of work or defined idea for performance that would be prepared to discuss and, within the boundaries of a three-hour class, show. Clearly in such a relatively short and intensive class, there will be a limit to how much we can cover, but I hope at least to be able to give all participants a chance to discuss their work in this introductory class.

This is also a chance for me officially to launch my Go Solo masterclass series and take my first class through my specially-devised programme of conversation, exercises and performance with lots of information on technique, style, writing, staging and presentation. It will also be a chance to examine and overcome some of our ‘blocks’, fears and insecurities about performing our own work.

I will of course be drawing on my own experiences from a ten-show solo career, using examples from my work as illustration. But I will be encouraging an active and uninhibited atmosphere of discussion and enquiry.

The workshop is being hosted through the generosity of the Hilldrop Community Centre and is free, though any donations to the Centre would be much appreciated. Like all such publicly-funded community resources it faces closure next year as a result of the brutal government cuts.hilldrop map




To book one place please use the contact form below. Leave full name, contact number, age and a brief idea of the work you wish to explore at the class.