James Vierira Interview
("Living Statues")

Serge Dulac is the Creator of something he calls “Living Statues”.

The “Living Statues” really capture an audience’s attention with their incredible resemblance to real marble statues.

You have to see it to believe it.

We caught up with one of the “Living Statues”-----James Vierira at the New York State Fair in Syracuse.

Q – James, since the co. (Unity Productions) is based out of Kissimmee, Florida does that mean you’re a resident of Florida?
A – Yes, I am. I was born and raised in Orlando, Florida. I now live in Kissimmee.

Q – How does someone prepare to be a “Living Statue”? Did you study acting?
A – Yes. Actually how it started off is I was an actor. I worked with an agency and had a commercial and met a friend. Basically Serge, the way he works, he just wants actors with a keen creativity. You have to have that sense of going out there creating something. I had to audition with him and he auditions a lot of people. He only picks a certain amount. He basically takes you through about 3 months worth of training, through ‘live’ performances to a form of meditation to doing “Living Statues”. That’s creating a show. With some good improv. skills and patience you get ‘The Living Statues’.

Q – The commercial you did was for t.v.?
A – Yeah. That’s correct. It was a nationwide Sea-do commercial. I was playing a surfer guy with a friend of mine named Scott Stencil. He’s a very good actor. It was actually called a wake skating commercial. Wake-boarding is really big in certain areas, with a lot of lakes.

Q – What was the audition like for “The Living Statues”? What were they looking for?
A – Originally my first audition was not for the ‘Statues’. It was for one of our other shows called ‘Living Toys’. In that audition I actually had to put on the costume and move robotically and see how well I can become this toy-like creature. Basically, see how well I can create this atmosphere and be totally into character, and that’s basically what it’s all about. Then it comes to a little technical stuff like how long can I keep my eyes open; how long can I stand still; how long I can do these certain interactions we have in script.

Q – “Living Toys”.
A – We actually performed that out in Japan. We’ve been performing that for 5 years now.

Q – I recall seeing ‘live’ mannequins in department stores in the late 60’s. People would make comments to see if they could get a reaction.
A – We get a lot of hecklers too. We get some people who touch you in areas you don’t want to be touched to get you to move. (Laughs). We’ve gotten to a point where it’s important to have an escort.

Q – This then is a relatively new form of entertainment isn’t it?
A – Pantomime has been around for how many years? Serge has actually been able to take the Statue act and be able to form certain scripts and a whole comedy show with it. Actually, believe it or not, sometimes it seems like a lot of times they’re up there improving and that’s actually a scripted form. You have to have that capability of making it look like it’s spontaneously happening. He’s basically taken that art form, given it a good show and copyright and it’s hard to follow. It’s hard to create.

Q – So, you look for an audience member to do something specific, so you can counter with something specific?
A – Exactly. Sometimes it will go your way. A lot of times it goes our way. Other times you have that person with a little negative attitude that says ‘no’ all the time and it doesn’t go very well. Typical in any improv. performance.

Q – When was this co. formed?
A – I believe, I could be mistaken, I’m pretty sure it was 1995, 1996. The co. was formed when Serge actually took the act to Epcot over in Disney and formed Unity Productions through there. He started getting more team members and got the copyright for the show and the script.

Q – Does he send out different troupes to different locations?
A – Right.

Q – Other State Fairs?
A – Well, not all the State Fairs. We do have people that go to other venues. For instance, just a week ago we had a couple of guys go out to the Middle East, in Du Bai, and do some performances out there. We’re going to be having some people go out to Japan. We have some performances going on in Florida. He likes to train a good amount of actors and send ‘em to certain parts of the world.

Q – What’s Serge’s background?
A – Believe it or not, he originally started off doing a little bit of improv. when he was a kid, and getting an engineering degree. He was actually planning on being an engineer until he went to Key West and got bit by the bug of performance art. He’s pretty good at moving like a robot. He decides one day to dress up like a waiter, and get ready for show in Key West. He sets up his table and all these glasses. What his show is gonna be, is people are going to watch him move like a robot, and pick up all these glasses and move ‘em around. What ends up happening is this big gust of wind comes by and blows the table over. He thinks to himself, ‘There goes my act. I can’t do anything’. So, the crowd is just staring at him. A woman in the crowd tells her son go up there and take a picture of him. So he goes up there to take a picture of him and he just fools around with the kid for a half an hour and the crowd loved it. So, that’s how he started coming up with these interactions and writing them down and formed them into an interactive show.

Q – Is this the only co. that does this sort of show?
A – We do have a lot of people try ‘The Living Statue’ thing. I’m proud to say no one can compare to us. Professional cos. that try to go out there and book shows don’t have the quality of our performance arts, and improv. skills.

Q – I call you a performer. Is there another name you’d like to be known as?
A – We would like to be called performer or street performer. We are actors out there acting. Last thing we want to be called is a model trying to stand still. We are going up giving a good performance every time.

Q – Isn’t it hot under those clothes on an August day in Syracuse?
A – They breathe very well. Imagine doing it in Florida during the summertime. Talk about warm. (Laughs). It actually doesn’t bother us that much. From our training that we go through with Serge he actually teaches us the best form of meditation to try to reach a point where we can slow down time in our minds and convince ourselves we’re in this atmosphere. I could have allergies that day and when I go on set I’m not sneezing at all. It’s all mind-control and believe it or not you can do a lot with your mind. Another thing we do when we’re up there meditating-----send out a good energy. We do that through our poses. They’ll be very peaceful poses. It gives a good feeling to people. Positive energy. Good spirit. That and we like to make them laugh.

Q – People know that it’s not a real statue up there, but they always act so surprised when you move.
A – It’s the cat and mouse game we’ll call it. As kids we love to be surprised. No one can get sick of a haunted house. They keep going in there and they know they’re going to be surprised. It’s an attractiveness people have to it. With that point made and timed into our interactions making their family members look really ridiculous and having the response we get out of ‘em-----people love it!

Q – How long have you been doing this?
A – I’ve been doing it for 3 years.

Q – In your mind, is their a cut-off time on when you’d like to stop being a ‘Living Statue’?
A – I guess. There could be a cut-off time. It’s kind of really hard to answer that question, because maybe it will just get me into trouble with my boss. (Laughs). There’s gonna be a point where I get old and I can’t be taking that type of physical activity anymore. Going around the country all the time. It gets hard sometime traveling a lot. If we become successful enough in what we want to do and where we go, yeah, there will be a point where we stop. For me personally, I do work in another industry.

Q – Do you work-out?
A – Yes. On the road here it gets pretty hard. We try to eat pretty healthy and try to stay in shape. If not, it can be pretty hard. You can do 2 hours just standing up there and doing poses like that. It gets hard on your back and feet.

Q – What would you eventually like to do with the experience you’ve gained as a “Living Statue”? Acting?
A – Yeah. I really do like the performance arts, especially acting. It’s really something I’d like to get into. Maybe one day, learn from all this and create a show of my own, and try to bring it out there and make it a company. I’ve got to travel all over the world and meet very wonderful people.

Q – All over the world?
A – I’ve been to England, all over Japan, the Middle East, all over the United States. I’d like to go to France someday. I think we’re still working on that. It’s been great ‘cause everybody’s been welcoming us with open arms.

Official website: UnityProductions.com

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