Theatre Aspen announces new festival of one-person shows |

Theatre Aspen announces new festival of one-person shows

Andrew Travers
The Aspen Times

Theatre Aspen will host a week-long festival in September devoted to one-person shows, the theater company announced Tuesday.

Titled “Solo Flights,” the inaugural festival will run in September 2019 following the conclusion of Theatre Aspen’s summer season. It takes the place of the Aspen Theatre Festival, which had been devoted to new works and had run annually in the fall but was discontinued last year in producing director Jed Bernstein’s first season with Theatre Aspen.

Solo Flights will include one-person shows ranging from works in progress to fully-staged productions, according to the announcement, and will include “pieces from stars of stage and screen, comedians and emerging talent alike.”

It will stage events at multiple venues downtown and at the Hurst Theatre in Rio Grande Park during the week beginning Sept. 16, the announcement says.

The festival will fill a creative need in the theater world while also raising Theatre Aspen’s profile, Bernstein said Tuesday.

“We are all very anxious for Theatre Aspen to be part of the national theater landscape as well as an important local institution,” he said. “Looking across the field, there are many new play festivals and almost as many festivals for new musicals. But there aren’t almost any festivals in this particular genre.”

The one-person show form has transformed and experienced a fertile creative growth in recent years on Broadway and beyond, with traditional one-character plays like the Bryan Cranston-starring “All the Way” alongside groundbreaking new storytelling experiences like John Leguizamo’s “Latin History for Morons” and autobiographical storytelling shows by comedians such as Mike Birbiglia.

Locally, one-person plays like “Fully Committed” and “Buyer and Cellar” have proved to be hits during recent Theatre Aspen summer seasons.

“There is obviously a taste and sophistication in Aspen for one-person storytelling,” Bernstein said.

Theatre Aspen is aiming to start small with an eye on growing the festival into an international incubator for the form.

“These things build slowly,” Bernstein said. “I don’t want everyone to think that ‘poof,’ all of a sudden we’re doing the Edinburgh (Festival Fringe) here. It will begin modestly and hopefully grow in breadth and importance over time while maintaining high quality.”

Details about programming, casting and the Solo Flights creative team will begin being announced in the new year, Bernstein said.

The company’s summer season, announced last month, will include productions of “Guys and Dolls,” “Little Shop of Horrors” and “The Wizard of Oz.”