Self-Employed

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Show Time

Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Chris Lashua has been an NASE Member for five years. He owns Wheelwork Arts LLC based in Las Vegas. His Web site is www.birdhousefactoryshow.com.


Tell us about Wheelwork Arts LLC.
We produce theatrical circus productions. We have a touring show, “Cirque Mechanics Birdhouse Factory,” which spent the last three years touring the U.S. theater circuit and recently completed a five-week run at the off-Broadway New Victory Theater.

Our theater project is based on mechanical contraptions that showcase the relationship between acrobatics and the machines. I design, test and build the machines. It’s the greatest thrill to take these designs from napkin drawings to the stage.

What’s the best compliment you’ve received about the show?
With “Birdhouse Factory,” which is set in a failing widget factory at the time of the Great Depression, we are getting lots of comments on the timeliness of the show. It’s great to hear that people enjoy the circus elements but also really appreciate the setting and the message of hope, the need to take control of a bad situation and the quest to find a new and better way.

How did you get interested in theater and circus work?
I was a competitive trick BMX cyclist and met one of the founders of Cirque du Soleil at a festival in China. He asked me to join their company for a tour of Japan. I started Wheelwork Arts about five years ago.

How has the NASE helped your business?
Self-Employed magazine has been a good source of information and a great place to learn about laws, regulations and taxation issues that affect small business. We have benefited over the years from NASE’s member benefits like the 105 health reimbursement arrangement, access to health insurance and ShopTalk 800, as well as sound financial and marketing advice from the Web site.

What’s the best business advice you can offer fellow NASE Members?
Build an A-team. Find and hire people that are as excited about what you’re doing as you are. A few years ago, it was 2 in the morning, and I sent an e-mail to the guy who had been referred to me as a possible set designer for our show. At 3:30 a.m. I got a full page reply detailing his vision and thoughts about the possibilities of the project. He wrote about his ideas regarding color palettes and scenic elements and rigging. I just KNEW he was the guy. He continues to be that guy. He took my vision for the show and expanded it. In this way, each member of the team has contributed greatly to the show. It’s this spirit of collaboration, dedication and top-shelf ensemble work that makes it all possible.


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