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Seven Shows In Seven Days — Solo Flights Lands At Aspen’s Hurst Theatre

Courtesy Theatre Aspen
Theatre Aspen's Hurst Theatre in the John Denver Sanctuary will host the company's Solo Flights Festival this week.

Theatre Aspen’s Solo Flights Festival debuted in 2019, and after a pandemic-induced hiatus last year, it returns for a second run at the Hurst Theatre in the John Denver Sanctuary this week.

The week-long event features the debut of seven one-person shows still in their early stages of development — that means no sets, no costumes, and just a single actor. Each piece is performed twice over seven days. In between, creative teams rehearse and rewrite their work based on audience feedback, which is often invaluable for fledgling productions.

“This is a way for writers and directors to begin to refine how they tell their stories,” said Theatre Aspen’s Producing Director Jed Bernstein. “The hope is that this will give some momentum to these pieces so they can move on to full productions.”

It’s also an exciting challenge for many actors, according to Taylor Trensch. Trensch was a cast member in To Kill A Mockingbird on Broadway when COVID-19 brought down the curtain on performing arts across the country in March of last year. He makes his return to the stage in the dark comedy Making Good this week. It’s his first time performing in Aspen, and it also marks another first for him professionally.

“This will be my first one person show,” Trensch said.

He’s been rehearsing out loud by himself in his apartment in preparation for this week’s festival, where he’ll have a few days beforehand to work with the show’s director and writer.

“The way I learn about my role in a show is through other people and my relationships with other characters on stage,” he explained. “To not have a soul to bounce anything off of can feel like rehearsing in a vacuum.”

It’s intimidating, but he’s looking forward to the experience.

“Whenever the job feels really daunting or scary, that’s also when it’s the most rewarding and the most fun,” he said. “Those career decisions that are nail biters, those often end up being the ones you remember and love so deeply.”

The work-in-progress nature of the Solo Flights shows is also a novelty for audiences, says Bernstein.

“I think the audience for Solo Flights is really interested in the creative process,” he said. “It’s great fun to be on the ground floor, to be at the birth of something and to actually be a part of it.”

And see which shows might fly the coop.

The dialogue between creative teams and audiences will continue at two Festival Panels (Aug. 27 and 29) at the Hurst Theatre as part of the Solo Flights event. More information and tickets are available at Theatre Aspen’s website.

Kirsten was born and raised in Massachusetts, and has called Colorado home since 2008. She moved to Vail the day after graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2011. Before relocating to Basalt in 2020, she also spent a year living in one of Aspen’s sister cities, Queenstown, New Zealand.