Five Questions for: Ariana Smart Truman
Organization/Company: Elevator Repair Service Theater
1. Where did you grow up and how did you end up where you are now?
I grew up in San Francisco. I went to Vassar, and moved to New York the day I graduated.
2. Which performance, song, play, movie, painting or other work of art had the biggest influence on you and why?
The Wooster Group’s Brace Up!, without a doubt, had the biggest impact on my life. I had always loved performing, and the act of making theater, but I never actually enjoyed watching theater, although I’m not sure I knew that. When I saw Brace Up !, at the age of 22, I felt like I had finally seen the thing I was always waiting for. I would have never known how to describe what it was I thought theater could do or be, but when I saw that, it was like the expression of all my unarticulated beliefs. When Kate Valk walked out on to the stage, and looked up at the sound booth over my head, and said, so simply, “Are you ready JJ?” I literally felt filled with electricity that something so real, with the promise of so much more than just reality, was happening just a few feet away from me
3. What skill, talent or attribute do you most wish you had and why?
I wish I could sing well. Listening to other people sing (for instance the gorgeous songs by Jesse Hawley and James Stanley in NTUSA’s Chataqua!) is one of the most moving experiences, and I wish, if only for the sake of my baby daughter’s bedtime ritual, that I could bring tears to people’s eyes with my voice because of its beauty, rather than because of it’s very wobbly off-key-ness.
4. What do you do to make a living? Describe a normal day.
I work full-time for Elevator Repair Service (although I also coordinate The Wooster Group’s Summer Institute, a summer performance workshop for 12-17 year olds; and I do free lance event production – primarily producing benefits for other non-profit theaters, but also planning weddings and the like). Every day starts at about 7 AM when George wakes up. Three days a week I go in to the ERS office – I get there by 11 AM. The work I do there includes being somewhere in the long process of negotiating a contract with one of the presenters bringing ERS on tour, updating the extended company on some aspect of upcoming tour, searching for plane tickets to accommodate some company member’s strange travel needs for another tour, talking with my fellow ERS office mates, John Collins, Tory Vazquez and Sarah Hughes, about how to strategize some negotiation for some commission or tour in the offing, and watching things on You Tube that John Collins has found.
5. Have you ever had to make a choice between work and art? What did you choose, why, and what was the outcome?
No, I never have. I have been lucky in that my whole adult life I have mostly worked with theater I love. In the times I wasn’t doing that, it wasn’t because I had to turn down some art.