- An amazing place to investigate deeper!
PHOTO: What I appreciate the most, is the many ways in which we’re taught to be critical thinkers, says NTA alumni and Danish actor (pictured right) David Jensen in "2014 Directed production by Dan Safer of Witness Relocation, NYC". (PHOTOGRAPHY: Jan Hajdelak Hustak
"NTA is that chalk white building on planet Norway, where they do worldmaking and worlddreaming, and there are all kinds of species and critters there, from all of the worlds, trying to negotiate equitable conflicts in precarious creative collaborations”
NTA alumni and actor David Jensen
Norwegian Theatre Academy alumni, David Jensen has been keeping himself busy as an actor since graduating in 2015.
- I’ve been working mostly with a collective called by Proxy, comprised of myself and five other NTA alumni. We’ve had some pretty crazy times, first touring with our final independent school production Stop Being Poor. For the last seven months we’ve been the artistic directors of Teater Momentum in Odense, where we’ve created another three performances, and started doing queer and party and cabaret like events called Bingo Bar and Breakfast Beat. Lastly, which personally for me has been the biggest dream come true, we’ve started to teach the playwright students at the Danish national school of theatre, and acting students at private institutions, and I really hope we get to do more of that in the future.
Jensen graduated from NTA with a bachelor degree in acting. From this year Norwegian Theatre Academy also offers a Master program in Performance. Application deadline is March 1.
More about the master program and other studies at NTA at www.hiof.no/nta
- I think it’s a natural step for the academy. The academic level of the bachelor is already quite high, but it’s fast paced, and I think the new MA might provide the time and focus needed to really develop your handwriting.
In what way do you believe this Master in performance will give artists the possibility to focus on their own artistic expression?
- By creating the space to have that kind of growth, where you don’t just look for what you’re capable of, which again might be a bigger focus on the BA, but what you’re deeply drawn to and curious about. What you want to hang out with day in and day out, and how you can draw sym-poetic materiality from your work and your peers, in a way that’s meaningful to you.
- A teacher at NTA once told me to at least give it two years after I graduate, before I figure out what it is I really want to work with. And she was right I think, though it’s an ever ongoing process, and once you’ve figured out something with performance that you’re wanting to investigate deeper, the NTA master of performance might be an amazing place to do that.
The fact that it has a collaborative focus as well, and with the experience already built from the countless collaboration based workshops taught at the academy, might set aside this MA from many others, that are more often than not primarily focused on the solo-artist.
Jensen says he first learnt about NTA through flyers and friends who were calling it ”The Robert Wilson school”. After having studied at NTA Jensen thinks it is much more to NTA than what he first heard.
- So maybe we should be fabulating new stories about this “madhouse”. Like: oh, NTA is that chalk white building on planet Norway, where they do worldmaking and worlddreaming, and there are all kinds of species and critters there, from all of the worlds, trying to negotiate equitable conflicts in precarious creative collaborations”.
How did you experience being a student at NTA?
- I had a great time at NTA. The program was workshop based, and hosted a range of leading artists from different fields, as guest teachers. Most of my time spent there was with guest teachers, each with their own practice and style of teaching, mentoring or directing.
I learned so much, I think the BA program is of incredibly high standard, and I don’t know of a similar program in Europe, with the same constant flow of new artistic input and exchange from influential artists active in the field.
But Jensen also recalls the time at NTA as confusing.
- It involves a lot of hard work, and a lot of responsibility is put on you as a student to discover and define your expression, and find your own trajectory through the woods – with the amazing help of the regular staff of course. NTA doesn’t lean on a single technique, but rather teach play, listening, questioning and critical thinking, which makes you much more independent and self-inventive as a student, and you get to learn to navigate that simultaneously. I’m very happy to have gone through that kind of training.
From a former student perspective, how did you experience the international profile of NTA?
- Whenever I mention NTA I always tell people that there’s no tuition fee, and that it accepts students from all over the world. That in itself has a huge impact in a global perspective, and it really is unique.
It matters from an ethical and cultural standpoint that you get to collaborate with international peers, that you get to widen your horizon, and encounter folks that come from different layers of society and privilege – and from that consider your own privilege and role as an artist in a white supremacy capitalocene global ecology. I’m still trying to figure that out.
From an NTA alumni perspective, in what ways have the NTA education been useful to you as an actor?
- Obviously all the training, a body in a social space, breathing, making, hanging and being-with, being response-able, capable of response, jumping around and dancing, or speaking, or whatever one might do in an act of communication, or fabulation or living and dying with an audience. That training has been gold.
But what I appreciate the most, is the many ways in which we’re taught to be critical thinkers. Which in effect breeds independent artists and individuals, that question the ethical magnitude of their work and their actions in collaborative situations.