Creating Flying Solo

FLYING SOLO copyToday is Marathon Day.

Join Amber as she races against the clock, herself, and a man with a fridge on his back.

She’s trained hard, she’s been eating right, she’s ready to run, she loves to run. Nothing can hold her back.

But the past is slippery, and no matter how fast you run – your memories are always lying in wait, ready to trip you up.

This heart-warming, heart-rending, extraordinary one-woman show from acclaimed writer-performer Manjeet Mann asks the question of how easy it really is to leave home.

Manjeet writes a personal blog about the process of creating Flying Solo.

Hello! My name’s Manjeet and I really hope you will ALL be coming to see my one person play Flying Solo! Here is a little bit about me, the play and why I decided to write it. Enjoy…FlyingSolo3

So around about this time last year I had decided to wave goodbye to acting. I always wanted to write a play so in the beginning I wrote Flying Solo as my last ‘hurrah’ to the acting industry. My other job was a personal trainer and I figured I was getting more enjoyment out of that, whilst making a real difference to the quality of my clients’ lives.

I’d been talking about writing my own show for a couple of years so I thought I’d make my last acting project the solo show I’d always talked about but never written.

I’ve always been interested in how childhood traumas can affect adult mental health, which is one of the themes running through Flying Solo. It’s a personal story, which is why I’m so passionate about it. However, it’s not completely autobiographical; it’s a semi-autobiographical story.

It’s about a woman who decided to find the courage within herself to go against following the path her parents had laid out for her. It also deals with issues surrounding elderly care, lost childhoods and mental health. There are bits that are based on my childhood experiences, and when my father passed away I had a really difficult time. I didn’t realise it at the time but I was having a breakdown.

I was spending most of my days sleeping and figured I needed something to give me a reason to leave the safety of my bed. I knew from my own training as a personal trainer that endurance exercise is excellent for mental health. I signed up for the Edinburgh Marathon and didn’t look back. It turned my life around.

In the play the marathon is more of a metaphor for life. The events that surround it are partly real. (I actually ran the London Marathon this year for MIND. It was one of the most uplifting and emotional days I’ve had!).

Flying Solo is a universal story about childhood, growing up and mental health. It’s ultimately uplifting in the end, so I hope it makes people feel that no matter what your past experiences are you are in charge of your future. Just like a marathon if you hit ‘the wall’ you can choose to let it beat you or you can pick yourself up and keep going.

FlyingSolo4Writing and performing (and producing!) your own show is perhaps one of the hardest things I’ve done. The sheer amount of work that has brought me to this point is ridiculous.  Not only that but it is so exposing! Performing your own work leaves you vulnerable and scared; everyday you battle with that fear, wanting to give up because it’s just too darn hard and you think that everyone is going to hate you and your work, and you are perhaps the worst person in the universe at acting, writing and being a human. All the bad stuff you think about yourself rises up and is magnified one hundred times over, and you cry. A lot.

Something kept me going, and I didn’t know how to articulate that until I read Amy Poehler’s book Yes Please. (FYI I Love Amy Poehler, Tina  Fey, Mindy Kaling, Lena Dunham – basically ANY woman who is writing and performing and producing her own work. I’m so inspired by these ladies; they keep me going when I doubt myself which is around every half hour or so). Anyway, here is the passage from Amy’s book that changed everything for me:

“Here is the thing. Your career won’t take care of you. It won’t call you back or introduce you to its parents. Your career will openly flirt with other people while you are around. It will forget your birthday and wreck your car. It’s never going to leave its wife. Your career is sleeping with other people and everyone knows but you. Your career will never marry you. 

Creativity is different. Creativity is connected to your passion, the light inside you that drives you. The joy that comes when you do something you love….Career is different…it’s the stringing together of opportunities and jobs…Career is something that fools you into thinking you are in control and then takes pleasure in reminding you that you aren’t.

You have to care about your work but not the result. You have to care about how good you are and how good you feel but not about how good people think you are or how good people think you look.”

I’m not pretending I’m any good at this; it’s  a work in progress but I feel far more in control of my future now I’ve taken it into my own hands. I still audition and I work other acting jobs around my own writing. A lot of actors feel they need someone to give them a job in order to be creative and do what they love.  I say take the power back! The only reason I wanted to give up acting was because my ‘career’ wasn’t where I wanted it to be. No one is stopping me from creating my own work though, and when I write something I know I can produce it and put it in front of an audience.  It just takes A LOT of hard work and facing/exposing all the ugly parts of yourself, but it’s worth it, because I’m in charge and that’s really liberating.

So, that’s all from me. I hope to see you all in September!

Flying Solo plays in The Salberg at Salisbury Playhouse on Friday 16 and Saturday 17 September 2016. For tickets or more information please contact the Ticket Office on 01722 320333 or visit www.salisburyplayhouse.com.

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