Answering Q’s about Q [by Sharu Delilkan]
I’ve known James Wilson for the past four years while he was Producer and General Manager at Massive Company. So when I heard that he was taking on the role of Executive Producer at Q, I naturally wanted the lowdown.
Having only joined weeks before Q’s official opening on August 26, Wilson admits he’s “like a kid in a sweetshop at Christmas.
“I’m really enjoying walking around the building and having my face light up when I see the endless possibilities.”
And it’s these endless possibilities that makes Wilson proud to be part of the latest addition to Auckland’s arts venues which is not only unique not to our city but to the country.
“We are hoping to attract not only the performing arts community, but anyone who would like to use our venue, to do wild and wonderful things with these new spaces.”
In fact, besides working alongside Q’s director Carla Theunissen, Wilson is also actively introducing the space to people who would not have considered using a theatre space.
“It’s one of the reasons why we dropped the word theatre from Q as a venue.
“The moment we mention theatre the close down and it limits the way people think rather than thinking of Q as a purely flexible space.”
And knowing that Wilson had initially trained as a theatre director at Rose Bruford College in the UK and then started his own little ensemble company Elemental Theatre, I was dying to know why he was pursuing a producing career.
His answer was pure and simple.
“Because I like being in control,” he said.
To which I couldn’t help ask “Is that because you’re a control freak?”
He chuckled and said ‘yes’ at first and then ‘no’.
“It’s about wanting some involvement in every single part of the process. I want to be there when I introduce the writer to the director and say go have a chat because you both have this idea. I want to be there when we’re designing the poster campaign. I love being involved at all these levels but I also enjoy being part of the bigger purpose. To be honest I never planned to be a producer. But I feel I’m in a happier place when I’m producing. It’s all about collaborating and being in an ensemble. I really like being part of a team that make things happen. I’ve always wanted to be in a company or a venue beyond that one production.”
It is that desire to be part of a collaboration that initially attracted Wilson to Massive.
And once again that has been the draw card for Wilson’s new role.
“I love being able to work with any type of performance art you can think of – comedy, digital art, dance, music, performance art, spoken word and of course theatre. What I’m particularly looking forward to is connecting artists who haven’t worked together before. For example I want to see what happens when the Comedy Festival’s audience sits next to an audience that may go to see a digital art show for [the K-Rd gallery] MIC [ToiRerehiko]. I am excited about the prospect of what happens when those groups mix together and the ideas and conversations that will come out of that.”
The recent graduate of the Art Venture Programme for Creative Entrepreneurs believes his interest in every aspect of production stems from when he shadowed a stage manager in the West End at the age of 15.
“I guess I have that sort of organisational controlling bent. I’ve always seen a producer as a creative role – I don’t see it as a management role.”
But Wilson is also enjoying not being having his finger in every pie, which was quite often the case with the small setup of Massive.
“I’m loving being able to confer with a large team of experts. Just being able to turn around and ask someone ‘what do you think of this?’ is such a great luxury.”