Actor, singer, sculptor, painter, writer, founder, designer, creative director, children's booksmith, videographer... the list of Amy Munz's accomplishments in the arts is exhaustive and exhausting. We'll give you the CliffNotes: non-annoying, tri-lingual wunderkind Munz has an impressive resume that "performance artist" hardly covers.
Not halfway through her second decade on the planet, she is the visionary founder and creative director for The New Stage, a performance and community space for the arts that will features a single "platform" (designed by the indomitable Munz) that will function in whatever capacity artists and their communities call upon it to do. Her one-woman show, multimedia show "PATTERNS: For Some Reason, it Tickled Me," runs July 16-Aug.16 under her company, New Stages, Inc., at the Dennis Gallagher Arts Pavillion (66 Page).
SF Weekly grilled Munz on how exactly she does it:
Besides this very glamorous interview, what does a day in the life of Amy Munz look like? Walk us through your day.
When [a show is] in production I'll think of something -- it'll be me with my camera going out to certain set ups and pointing around my camera like I'm the character in the place. Like on Sunday I went to an apricot orchard and took on one of the characters and pointed around a camera in the orchard with a dog. I'm also doing other projects. Then there's a lot of work, like I'll work on the design of my theater building, I'll be working with a structural engineer and an architect, I'm working with a business planner, it's very day-to-day
Tell us about the performance space you conceptualized and have been designing. A stage with a built-in café? Explain.
The café is one of my favorite parts of it! I wanted to think about how to add the social components, that's why I put the café so close to it, and so you could have different types of theater that involve food. The idea is interdisciplinary theater that combines indoors, outdoors, media, performance, and community. It's not a big theater-it's one or two hundred people, for us to come together and be the link between the local and the international.
How did you develop the idea for the space?
I came up with the idea three years ago and it took about a year to go from "I feel like I want to go in this direction" to having a design. I was really interested in this idea of immersive theater -- how do you frame a performance and how do you immerse someone? But I've been thinking recently, I love the fourth wall too! There's something that video brings that live performance doesn't, and I was thinking, how can they connect? What would be a multipurpose space for performance? I wanted it to be an intimate thing.
That sounds incredible. Location? Dates? How is this being funded?
Right now I have the structural drawings. Structural engineers have OK'ed it and I'm looking at different spots in the Bay Area. I'm a for-profit company so I'm working like a start up and raising money through stocks. As soon as the show ends I'll be wrapping up my business plan and going around and pitching it. Timing depends on how funding goes; within the next two years or so I hope to make progress.
Patterns is a multi-media show, can you walk us through the different mediums you used?
So, I have me, text, and video. I like to think of the performance as the intersection between video installation art and performance. A performer has this text that then is expanded with video art, so it's creating this space where the audience is an active participant, kind of like in a song. I've been thinking about music lately and how these ballads work... you have three channels of video art and the kinds of videos will represent memories from the past lives of the characters, and then archival footage from the kind of communal memory...I'll be playing three main characters, and then there's also three secondary characters. And these secondary characters spin off the main characters at key points in the show to help raise questions about the show, and I even play with my identity as a performer to express my own ideas of love.
Your show focuses is about love -- did you struggle to produce original work on that topic? To what extent is it autobiographical?
I didn't really struggle because I did think about my own experiences with love...I guess the reason why I really liked the idea of writing about love is that in performance in general I like being super passionate and romantic and energetic and I liked writing scenes with high emotional stakes starting from a feeling and going in that vein, because what really interests me is love as a paradox -- one moment love makes sense in our world and then it feels impossible and then you feel alone but you're not, and you feel like you understand someone and you don't -- how can it be both? That's the show for me.
What does it mean to you to be a young woman at the helm of these massive undertakings? Do you consider yourself a feminist artist?
Definitely. I'm glad you asked that question -- in a way I think what I'm writing about is clearly from a female perspective, as a performer and artist. When it comes to starting a company I don't think about it too much, but I think it motivates me. I don't know exactly how to articulate it but it is something that I do think about.
You've achieved an incredible amount of success, especially considering your age; how do you avoid getting lazy? What motivates you?
What motivates me is that I really love theater. I love the live component... when I have moments that are a little bit tough I think about the space that performance creates. There's a reason I'm doing theater, not film: to bring people to a place, to an edge, to think about horizon space. It's a very rare moment to be in a sincere emotional space with people, and that really motivates me. That needs to be done.
Word on the internet street is that you're fluent in Romanian, French, and Italian. How?
Yeah. My family is Romanian and then I went to a French school where I took French in my classes kindergarten through twelfth grade, then I took Italian starting in sixth grade. It helps that they're all Latin languages.
What was your collaboration with director Henry Godinez like? How do you share artistic ownership over work that is so personal to you?
He was my acting professor at Northwestern. He was a huge supporter and mentor and the way he taught acting at Northwestern really worked with how I perform. We had a connection--we have a shared vocabulary and similar values. It's interesting! To go through him trusting me--we've been through it before because he directed my final project at Northwestern.
One last question: Are you actually ticklish?
You know what's funny, I'm not that ticklish. I'm not super ticklish, but I laugh a lot about things, so I'm ticklish in the emotional way.