Andy Carluccio: A Toolmaker
If there is one thing life in 2020 has shown us, it is that we should expect the unexpected. Last spring, Andy Carluccio was a newly-minted UVA graduate with a dual degree in Drama and Computer Science. He was preparing to head to Canada on July 6 to begin a career as a software developer, but the universe, and the pandemic, had other plans. Today Andy is a thriving small business owner powered by a remarkable right place, right time confluence that finds him helping hundreds of theatre artist clients across the country and beyond connect to audiences with just the kinds of digital tools he began creating at UVA.
On Grounds, he was a “shining star” in the Drama Department, according to the department, said Mona Kasra, Assistant Professor of Digital Media Design at UVA, who worked with Carluccio on a number of projects. These included Inquiry, a collaboration with dance program director Kim Brooks Mata that was mounted at The Smithsonian; and She Kills Monsters, a Drama Department production directed by Marianne Kubik that relied heavily on complex projection mapping.
His work would soon catch the eye of professionals outside of Grounds when he worked with Drama Department Adjunct Lecturer Eammon Farrell on a Bard College production of Mad Forest that made the rare jump from academic theatre to Broadway. “Eamonn called and said there were a few things we were thinking about lighting…and we need it tomorrow. The tables flipped, and I found myself in a rehearsal room trying to write software while getting back from the director, Ashley Tata, about what the software had to do.”
New York would come calling again when Heritage Theatre Festival Artistic Director Jenny Wales connected Carluccio with director Lucie Tiberghien, artistic director of Moliere in the Park, to present The Misanthrope and Moliere in a Zoom format. In the midst of this whirlwind, Andy and two business partners launched Liminal, a company with a roster of more than 100 shows and clients, and a client database that is 200 strong and climbing.
For the past three months, Carluccio shared, a typical day has included at least 16 Zoom meetings. “The pace at which this is going has been mind-boggling,” he said. It’s all happening with a small team. He has two partners in the business and a half-time software developer who helps him build some of the tools they are working on right now. The inspiration for these tools, and for Carluccio’s new career path, comes from a mantra he has been living and working from the time he began his double major. “I find the distinctions between technology and art to be arbitrary,” he said, “and that creativity is what we find at their intersection.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, Carluccio said that his artistic practices have made him a better practitioner of drama, particularly in the technical drama work he has done. “But,” he added, “I also found, surprisingly, that my artistic practice made me a better software developer, and that it has allowed me to think creatively about problem-solving using the practices that we learn and the theatrical context. I basically think of myself as a toolmaker. I really like to make things that allow artists to make their best work and that help them express themselves through tools.”
These tools, Tiberghien said, will likely have a life beyond the pandemic. “What was really exciting about working with Andy,” she said, “is that it was about thinking beyond what his technology can do, which is bringing another aesthetic to the idea of a Zoom reading. It has been about us working together to figure out how to think about this, not as something we fall back on because we can’t have the real thing, but rather to really explore what is the absolute gift that this period is giving us in terms of creating a new language that we hope will stay with us even after we come back together in the same space. It is our job to think about how we can constantly reinvent ourselves and stay in touch with the moment. So beyond responding to a pandemic, it is about responding to the ways people are looking for entertainment.”
While the dizzying timetable could not have been expected, Andy’s success is not a shock to those who worked with him. “Andy’s attention to detail, generous spirit, and unparalleled work ethic added so much to our company and to the work we produced, “Wales said. “I’m thrilled to see how he has synthesized his talents to impact the American Theatre. He is truly a trailblazer, and I can’t wait to see what is next.” One thing that is not currently on his agenda, Carluccio said, is sleep. “There is definitely not much of that happening now, but you know what? I am not complaining. It is a difficult time for everyone right now and I feel very fortunate to be involved in performance. It is a privilege to be involved with artists and to help them produce work. I feel a certain responsibility to take all the things I was lucky enough to learn at UVA and to apply them to what is a very pressing need right now.”