Name: Julie Lichtenberg
Organization: The Performance Project
Title: Artistic Director
Artistic Genre: Theater
Years in the Field: 35
What do you do at The Performance Project?
With First Generation: I teach physical theater and work with groups of young adults to form an ensemble and create devised theater. Then we perform the pieces that we’ve created on college campuses, in theaters and other places. I also bring artists in to train with the ensemble and help develop the performances. I schedule performances, fundraise, coordinate, work with interns, plan meals, plan sleepovers and retreats, transport, plan and host family events in collaboration with First Gen youth, go on field trips, celebrate birthdays and graduations. I also teach and/or coordinate our Visual Arts programing.
Why do you do what you do?
Because I am always learning and being inspired by the First Generation community. We managed to create a little place that is caring, nurturing, creative, and fun, and we all dream big together.
What comes easiest to you in this work?
Sitting in the First Gen circle, talking and laughing is what comes easiest to me. I have never thought of this as “work.” This is what I’ve always been driven to do as person and as an artist, and it’s taken different forms throughout the years. So I would say, I’m breathing, not working. But it’s not easy, because of what we have to do to keep it going.
What challenges you in this work?
Over the years, a big challenge has been, having to explain the many layers of our artistic community to someone who might only understand things in terms of distinct and separate categories. That’s why I’ve been so grateful that there is finally the term, ”creative youth development,” which encompasses so much of what we do. Not all, but much of it. Also a big challenge is that sadly, we recently lost our home-base in Springfield, and that has been really difficult.
What does it mean to your community that you do this work?
More than one community engages with The Performance Project. Here’s some examples: First Gen youth have described First Gen as a safe space, fun, and second family. That First Gen supports them pursue their dreams. Their families say First Gen is a big support. People who come to our performances say they are moved and inspired, and often provoked to think about things. We have college interns who give a lot and learn a lot with us.
How do you blow off steam?
Watch movies. Workout. Laugh. Cry.
What do you create in your free time?
Whose work in the creative youth development field do you admire and why?
Everett Company because they seem to be a truly inter-generational arts community. I admire their artistic work and their as their commitment to truth-telling and liberation.
Seen any good movies lately?