Five Questions for Thomas Kriegsmann
Name: Thomas Kriegsmann
1. Where did you grow up and how did you end up where you are now?
I evolved in the great state of New Jersey. Luckily, my Queens-bred parents worked in the City so early exposure to its chaos led me toward as many solitary NYC pilgrimages as I could afford to soak in the theater and music scene. I preferred to be alone, and the theater won for making more sense of alienation than the punk clubs could.
2. Which performance, song, play, movie, painting or other work of art had the biggest influence on you and why?
As the landscape of what the theater was opened to me, these trips would often involve a first experience with the work of an artist or company. The journey of seeing them for the first time was profound to say the least, and what influenced me to dedicate my life to live performance in some way, awestruck by what I’d seen, staring out the windows of a dirty NJ Transit train at age 15 wondering how the f*ck I was going to get out of there. These include the first time I saw Foreman, Forsythe, the Wooster Group, Mnouchkine, Roger Guinevere-Smith, Bogosian, Ron Athey, Peter Brook/CICT, Bergman.
3. What skill, talent or attribute do you most wish you had and why?
Vulcan mind control. I spend a lot of time speaking to presenters from all over the US whose communities reflect a pure potential, whose daily diet of digital culture far exceeds the local arts orgs ability to comprehend and reflect that input in a way that would bring their people to live performance – imagining how to get their organizations to make the mental jump to understand and hear that artist in a formidable way, and how to spend their money wisely. They don’t – it don’t, and their audiences are inevitably fading away. I feel the time-tested techniques of the Vulcans would help me inspire their confidence to get beyond the fear of the unknown.
4. What do you do to make a living? Describe a normal day.
I produce and tour internationally based theater projects, and just finished producing the Ringling International Arts Festival in Sarasota. Since I have the privilege of working from home, I abuse that privilege by never stopping. It begins very early, ends very late.
5. Have you ever had to make a choice between work and art? What did you choose, why, and what was the outcome?
I made the choice to make moving art my work – there’s a lot of creativity in it, but in the end my job is to clear the path for the artist, or obstruct it in a way that moves the work forward. The choice between art and work for me comes down to who’s to blame.