James Vierira Interview
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
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
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 – 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
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
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
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
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
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
© Gary James All Rights Reserved