Sunday, September 12, 2010

How about a Collaborative Approach? Interview with Liz Vacco

Liz Vacco
-Performer, Choreographer and Founding Member/Managing Director of Immediate Medium offers her thoughts on self-producing experimental theater. Thank you, Liz!
# 1. What was the first show you produced? What was the most important lesson you learned?

I've been producing work with my company, Immediate Medium, since 2002. But most of what we did for a while were short pieces in group shows or more installation based work. The first full production we put up was in 2007 when we produced a 3 week run of an original piece, Things Are Going to Change, I Can Feel It. We learned a lot during this experience, but I think the most important thing we learned is that for our kind of experimental work it's key that everyone involved is really excited and dedicated to the project. It's crucial that every collaborator has a strong artistic stake in the project; if not, things can get hairy.

# 2. How do you define your role as producer? What do you enjoy most?

For our company, it's about getting the space and the funding to put up the pieces we want to develop together and ultimately show to the public. Therefore, every company member does whatever it takes; sometimes this means sharing responsibilities, delving into an area in which we have no expertise and it definitely means learning as we go. I have enjoyed learning and gaining knowledge about arts administration and producing that I might not have acquired otherwise.

#3. What are some of the benefits to producing your own work?

Complete artistic control! Granted I work with a collaborative, but we came together since we share an aesthetic and a set of values about performance and art as well as a creative drive that we bring to each new piece. It's great to know that we as a group have the ultimate say about what each piece will be.

#4. What are the unique challenges to wearing more than one hat? How do you deal with them?

It's particularly difficult when in production. During our productions, each company member has either been performing, directing or designing as well as helping produce the piece. Sometimes grant deadlines coincide with tech week or the demands of putting up a show combined with rehearsing and preparing to perform simply become overwhelming. You just don't sleep much - and deal.

# 5. Any words of wisdom for artists who want to produce their own work?

Talk to the people who's work you admire; find out how they do it. Or intern with them at first; just being in that environment and talking with fellow artists will teach you a lot of what you need to know to get started.

Liz Vacco is a Brooklyn-based performer and choreographer. For the past ten years, she has been active in the New York theater and dance communities, performing and creating with Les Freres Corbusier, The Collapsable Giraffe, Fovea Floods, Gold No Trade, The White Horse Theater, Sidra Bell NY and at St. Ann's Warehouse, P.S. 122, Lincoln Center's Clark Studio Theater and the Hangar Theater. Liz is a founding member and the Managing Director of the multi-disciplinary performance collaborative, Immediate Medium ( She has contributed to all IM works since 2002 as a collaborator, choreographer and performer. Additionally, she teaches dance, theater and yoga to young children through the New York City Ballet's Ballet Bridges and Ballet Tales Programs, at Discovery Programs and at Let's Dance Brooklyn. She has choreographed for student productions at the Browning School and the Imagine Project. She also worked for the non-profit organization, The Children's Aid Society, implementing and expanding the after-school theater program at P.S. 5. She received a BA from Yale, where she served as Co-President of Yaledancers.

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