The student-run community news site of Vermont State University - Johnson

Basement Medicine

The student-run community news site of Vermont State University - Johnson

Basement Medicine

The student-run community news site of Vermont State University - Johnson

Basement Medicine

The Man, the myth, the legend

Owen Whitney
Gael Eddy and Isaac Eddy

Isaac Eddy has been Chair of the Theatre Department for VTSU for nine years and has seen it go from Johnson State College to Northern Vermont University to Vermont State University.  This interview was conducted via email.


When did you know you wanted to be a performer?


I have always loved performing. I used to do mini performances for my family standing on our coffee table when I was little. Oddly though, I knew I wanted to be a performer when I got stage fright which was in fourth grade. I was so scared but also enthralled and it just felt right.



If you could have dinner with 3 people, dead or alive, who would they be and why?


Jeremy O Harris: a gnarly playwright. I would want to hear about what he’s working on now and why. Keith Haring: He was such a beautiful artist and activist. I’d want to see the images he would create about our world now. Cesar Chavez: I would want to hear from him about creating the United Farm Workers Union. We are experiencing a new wave of important labor union activism in our country right now and we could use his insight.



What made you decide to leave performing and teach? 


“I was teaching at the Governor’s Institute for the Arts each summer in Vermont (I was living in Brooklyn at the time) and realized I was getting as much energy and inspiration teaching as I was getting from being on stage. So I got my MFA while I was acting full time and then a job opened up here in Johnson. I miss performance though. I hope next year it is folded more into my daily professional life.”



What was it like being a Blue Man? 


Blue Man is a really great gig. Full time, full benefits. Great crew of people. My best friends are people I performed with and worked with outside of the show. And it’s a ton of work: sweating through my entire costume each show. Beautiful music, big laughs from the audience each show. I couldn’t have asked for a better gig to have for 12 years.



Outside of teaching and performing what are some of your hobbies? 


I love cartooning and writing songs, playing my uke and singing. My main “hobby” is being with my family and being a dad. I’m able to bring my littlest to work quite a bit. A student of mine, Zib, watches him sometimes while I teach, which has worked out really well.



If you could be any animal, what would you be, why?  


For some reason I’ve never liked this question. Why is that? Is it because I spend all my time thinking about what it means to be a human? Maybe. We just got kittens though. It would be fun to be a cat. 


Do you have any hidden talents? 


No hidden talents. I show off too much about everything I can do, haha. 


How/where did your career as a performer start?


I loved performing from a very young age. My first performance was in elementary school as “Cinderfella” haha. My first paid performance was for Bobby Gosh who is this great music producer who happens to live in my home town. He hired me to do voices for animatronic characters in Stew Leanord’s grocery stores. I was probably 11 or so and I got to do work in a professional studio as a half pint of cream and I completely loved it. I was aware of the different dynamic in the room: it wasn’t about nurturing me as a learner it was about them getting the best take.


What’s the first show you’ve ever directed?


I directed a lot of film projects before theatre. I worked in film and video much more in high school and undergrad. I made a mocumentary horror film for my senior project in high school that was like the Blair Witch film a few years before that came out. I directed a bunch of film projects after that, and I thought that was my professional future for a bit. But when I moved to LA after undergrad, I realized how much I missed live performance and that maybe I didn’t know yet what my future was (spoiler: none of us really know what our future is). My first theatrical directing work was with Blue Man: I would direct small TV and live appearances for the London show. It was a really great and supportive way to step away from the performer role and into the directing role. In the end, I’m more of a performer than a director. But I really really love thinking about the structure of the piece as a whole, collaborating with designers, and creating an ensemble identity that makes a show special. For that, I love directing and will always identify with it.


What’s your favorite show that you’ve put on while teaching at Johnson? It doesn’t have to be one that you directed. Why was it your favorite?


Wow what a cool question. I’m grateful for it. As you can probably imagine there are a bunch of elements that go into this that makes the answer nuanced and complicated. I have shows that I loved because they were so EASY. Just good and beautiful vibes through the whole process. Our version of Much Ado was like that. Other ones were difficult but then the product was impressive. Mr. Burns was like that. Our interpretation of Antigone is one that I hope to explore more in the future: one where the audience votes on who is actually the hero of the story. There’s also a divide between pre and post pandemic that I think needs to be a part of this question. I’ve had a lot of conversations with Laura Roald who directs a lot of our plays here (and who is incredible), about how we can rebuild the theatre culture after the pandemic. It was especially difficult for us because we don’t have technical and design support for our productions like other schools. Mainly because of her hard work and because of folks like Stefanie Weigand, our music director for a few incredible years, we were able to rebuild what it meant to come together and work very very hard on a collaborative project. Taking this into account, I am most proud of the show we just put on, Too Much Light.


 Is it easier to be a dad or to be a director? What’s your favorite part of both?


Heck yes. Another amazing question! Directing is definitely easier. You know why? Because it’s a JOB. There are times in the day to DO IT. There are times in the day TO NOT. Directing is difficult (and I think often I could be so much better at it) but it doesn’t compare to parenting. Parenting has no paying audience. Parenting has no tenure file. And there is no script either! The dynamic element, meaning us adults need to get stuff done but there is a whole emotional kid landscape that is a big part of this as well, is very difficult to navigate. Parenting is just bare old actual you 24 hours a day. There is not an awards ceremony at the end of it. And then your kids get old enough and you see how much of your own processing of your own upbringing you are projecting onto your offspring. Gah. AND YET it is so rewarding. I feel so lucky that I’m able to spend so much time with my kids when they are small like this.


Do you have anything else to add (serious or fun)? 


This coming semester will be my last here. I’ve taught here for nine years and I have learned SO MUCH. I think (hope) I’ve helped students create important work on our beautiful stage and learn more about the importance and value of performing arts. I feel very grateful that I’ve had this time here.

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Jill Pressman
Jill Pressman, Staff Writer, Web Editor
Jill Pressman (they/them) is a creative writing major. Their background is in creative writing, making newspaper writing a new style for them, with hopes of bettering their writing in general.