I MARRIED A DO-IT-YOURSELFER; AND SO DID MY WIFE!
We may have been naïve, but Gretchen and I thought that we should be able to do it all when it came to presenting a show. Sometimes naiveté can make you do things that seem impossible to others.
We started writing our first two-person show in 1979 - 3 months after we moved in together. We researched material, wrote the script, composed the songs and wrote the lyrics, built the props, and built a set that could break down and be transported on the NY Subway. We did that show all over NYC the next year, and it cost us around $100 to produce. Since then we have written and performed over 20 shows and just we can’t stop trying to do all of it ourselves (whenever we can). When we need to make something, like a mask, or puppet, or set piece, or whatever, we find a way to learn what we need to make it happen.
No area is safe from our DIY skills. We have sculpted, sewed, painted, hammered, recorded, invented; whatever it took to get the show up. It took ALL of our time, to research, educate ourselves, and to do the work; but it was great! It not only saved us an enormous amount of money, but it kept our brains and bodies firing on all cylinders. Even when we did purchase a prop or trick, we usually made it over to suit our individual needs. That meant taking it apart to understand how it worked and then finding a way to improve it or make it better.
I highly recommend this approach to all performers, and it’s so much easier now with all of the YouTube tutorials out there. And there are many cross-training, DIYing performers out there. Like James Munton, who is continually honing his skills in writing, photography and leather crafting.
Of course, when you “do-it-yourself”, you have to have a lot of materials at hand. That means saving every little bit of plastic or foam or wire that has promise. And also, collecting and archiving every intriguing or funny idea you’ve ever had, in case it might come in handy one day.
You know you’re a DIYer when you are sitting on the floor, carefully deciding which bits of foam you should save and which you should reluctantly throw away.