Charlie Miller has been working with the DCPA for more than 12 years. Originally hired as a “Multimedia Specialist,” Miller has been involved in numerous projects and is currently working with the Artistic Department as the Off-Center Curator. To better get to know Miller, we (virtually) sat down and covered everything from his artistic background, fun projects he’s worked on over the years, and, of course, the mind behind Off-Center.
Where are you from?
I grew up in Denver. I’m actually a sixth generation Denverite, so my roots here run deep and Colorado is central to my family life and identity. I grew up performing at the Mizel Center for Arts and Culture (at the Jewish Community Center) throughout my childhood and seeing lots of shows at the Denver Center. I went away for college, studying Visual and Environmental Studies (with a focus on filmmaking and video production) at Harvard, and then was lucky enough to land my dream job at the DCPA when I returned to Denver after graduation.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I don’t really remember what I aspired to be when I grew up. But I do remember a decisive moment the summer before I began college in which I decided that being creative and making art was so important to me that I wanted to pursue it academically and professionally. While I majored in filmmaking, theatre is my first love, and I always intended to use video and technology in the context of live performance.
What is your position at the DCPA?
My role has changed and evolved a lot over the 12 years that I’ve been at the DCPA, which has kept me continually challenged, engaged, and always on my toes. I was hired as “Multimedia Specialist” to build a Multimedia Department for the Theatre Company and be the Resident Video Designer for productions. My initial idea was to create a multimedia lab where we could experiment with technology that could be used for productions. I was (and still am) particularly interested in the ways video technology and social media could further storytelling inside and outside of the theatre and engage audiences.
I was also the only millennial on the Artistic Team when I was hired, so they started looking to me for thoughts on how the Theatre Company might attract a younger audience. From those questions and the lab idea, Off-Center was created to be a theatrical test kitchen where we could experiment with new ways to attract and engage younger, adventurous audiences. I co-founded Off-Center with Emily Tarquin, and we curated and produced the programming together for the first six years. Through that time, I also was working fulltime as the Director of Multimedia and designing video/projections for multiple productions each season.
As Off-Center grew from a small experiment to a signature line of programming, the demands increased, and it no longer made sense for me to split my time between multimedia and Off-Center work. So, in 2016, just as Emily decided to move on to a new job at Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, I moved fulltime into the Artistic Department as Associate Artistic Director. And I’ve been doing that work ever since. My alternate title is Off-Center Curator, as my primary responsibility is producing Off-Center productions.
I am so fortunate to work at the professional theatre that I grew up attending and for the opportunity to create new theatrical experiences that bring Denverites together. I know how unique and privileged it is to have a job in the arts doing what I love, and I am grateful for that every day.
What are some of your hobbies?
I have two awesome daughters (ages 5 and 3), and I love that they take up most of my time and attention outside of work, but that doesn’t leave much room for additional hobbies. In my free time I enjoy cooking (and eating!), running, listening to podcasts and audiobooks, and I still enjoy making movies, now with my daughters, for fun.
What inspires you?
I love assembling a group of exciting artists and creating the space for them to do their best work. Nothing gives me more pleasure, excitement, and energy than helping an artistic team achieve their vision and share it with audiences. I am passionate about how art and creativity can bring people together, and the magic that can happen in those live theatrical moments drives and inspires me.
What is your favorite project you have worked on?
I’ve been fortunate to work on many wonderful productions over the years, and many are dear to my heart. If I had to choose one, it would probably be Sweet & Lucky, Denver’s first largescale immersive theatre production that Off-Center produced in 2016. We commissioned Brooklyn-based Third Rail Projects to create a new show in a 16,000 square foot warehouse on Brighton Boulevard. The project was of a scale that none of us had done before; it was scary and exciting and we learned so much along the way. The end result was an incredibly moving and memorable experience for artists and audiences alike. The experience of producing Sweet & Lucky confirmed my passion for nontraditional theatrical experiences that put the audience at the center of the story and proved that there is an adventurous audience in Denver hungry for this kind of art.
What is your dream project?
I’ve been working on my dream project for two years now! It’s Theater of the Mind, created by David Byrne and Mala Gaonkar. We were so close to opening it when COVID-19 hit, and we have postponed the project until we can safely and responsibly make it happen.
Where do you feel most creative?
I am drawn to theatre because it is such a collaborative artform. The best theatre requires many talented people working together to create something bigger and better than what any one could create alone. I feel most creative when I’m surrounded by other creative people, and I’m lucky to have so many talented colleagues and collaborators that give me creative energy and inspiration every day.
- One of my first projects at the Denver Center was creating a monthly behind-the-scenes video series called “10 Minutes to Curtain.” It only lasted a couple of years because I got too busy with video design and Off-Center work, but it was a lot of fun.
- Some of my favorite pieces are the Denver Center Online Fortune Teller featuring Kathy Brady, which helped audiences decide what show to see that season, a singing season announcement from former Artistic Director Kent Thompson, and the Glengarry Glen Ross Curse Word Symphony.