Responsive Listening: Theater Training for Contemporary Spaces, essays
Detailing new perspectives on acting and scenography, this rich, inductive compilation of essays and personal reflections profiles Østfold University College/Norwegian Theatre Academy’s unique approach to international theater education. At NTA, artistic research informs pedagogy. Investigation and experimentation are emphasized over any single technique or method, defined by the use of sonic, kinetic, visual, and olfactory environments that can each serve as material for new creative work. By amplifying students’ engagement with diverse spaces, deep play, movement, full-body listening, vocalization, musicality, collaborative processes, ethical risk, and even failure, the faculty and guest artists at NTA have established a program that challenges the limits of the field while continuing its growing contribution to contemporary theater practices.
Contributors: Karmenlara Ely, Serge von Arx, Camilla Eeg-Tverbakk, Electa Behrens, Øystein Elle, Veronika Bo?kelmann, and Ivar Furre Aam, with a photo essay by Karen Kipphoff.
Edited by Camilla Eeg-Tverbakk and Karmenlara Ely
Pub Date: March 1, 2015
128 pages, 8 photographs
“There are two kinds of theater schools: Those founded to feed the existing institutions, with young people trained to fulfill the traditional aesthetics; and those raising questions about the future of theater. Most schools belong to the first category; unfortunately only few, maybe just five in all of Europe, to the second. NTA is clearly one of them: a place for aesthetic experiments, perception-based research, and engaged, upcoming artists.”
“Norwegian Theatre Academy (NTA) represents a fresh, undogmatic attitude and an inquisitive approach to an art field in growth and progress. Employing an interesting list of resourceful people from the practical field, their Norwegian and international artists only serve to complement the picture, making this education relevant far beyond the walls of the school. NTA educates for the future by equipping the students with the tools necessary for a meaningful life on various stages, in sync with a market that is continuously evolving and changing. NTA enriches Norwegian stage arts.”
“Kelly and I worked at NTA for six weeks with a group of graduating students on their final performance. It was an experience unlike any other we’d had working with students. We were invited to challenge the NTA students and expand their idea of what theater could be, but instead, we ourselves got pushed in unexpected directions and beyond our own limitations. The students at NTA are brave, adventurous, and mature artists beyond their years. The piece we made with them became something we couldn’t have imagined, and we are grateful for the opportunity. The other faculty and staff at the school don’t know the word “no” and always tried to figure out how to make even the craziest idea happen. I really believe we learned more than we taught, and our time in Fredrikstad remains one of the highlights of our creative careers. The school is a hotbed of new ideas and a haven for experimentation. If given the opportunity, Kelly and I wouldn’t hesitate to come back, because we know that we would grow and greatly benefit from the experience.”
“Teaching at NTA is like stepping into an amazing laboratory, where you not only get to share what you know, you get to test and refine it and risk and discover, with students who are unique artists themselves, unafraid to dive in and explore the possibilities of what Theater is, can, and could be. All of this happens in an atmosphere with clear and dedicated leadership and support. It is a singular place, an environment where current and emerging theater artists can push the possibilities and move our field into new, exciting territory, creating work that speaks to the “now” and will influence the future.”
Ivar Furre Aam is an artist and director in the fields of contemporary dance, theater, and transdisciplinary performance art, producing work with his company either on his own initiative or in collaboration with other artists. Ivar makes work that deconstructs theater and investigates the media specific potentialities of theater and performance while challenging notions of production of emotions and individualistic tendencies in western culture. In addition, he works as an actor and performer in theater, film, and dance with other artists companies and choreographers such as the Norwegian National Theater, Sidney Leoni, Lisa Lie, and Trøndelag Theater. He is currently an artistic consultant at the Norwegian Actors’ Center. He holds a BA in Acting from Norwegian Theatre Academy/Østfold University College and an MA from Stockholm Academy of Dramatic Arts.
Electa Behrens is associate professor of voice at Norwegian Theatre Academy/Østfold University College. She holds a Practice as Research PhD from Kent University (UK). She has performed with many companies and artists throughout Europe and the USA, including Transit Teatret (NO), Odin Teatret (DK), Richard Schechner (USA), Marina Abramovic (Serbia), Dah Theatre (Serbia), F2 Performance Project (Greece) and the Centre for Performance Research (Wales). As researcher and practitioner, she has participated in Paul Allain’s British Grotowski Network and Britain/Russia, an exchange with the Moscow Arts Theatre School, as well as participating in three Giving Voice festivals, organized by the CPR.
Born 1978 in Germany, Veronika Boekelmann is currently based in Berlin and works as artistic assistant at the department of Fine Arts/Architecture at Technical University Berlin. Veronika holds a MA in Performance Studies from New York University and a BA in Acting from Norwegian Theater Academy/Østfold University College. She previously studied at the Institute for time-based Media at the University for Arts in Berlin (UdK). As founding member of the artist collective VOLUMEN EXPRESS and friends, her art work explores the borderline of installation and performance, often engaging with the relation of the archive, the body, and (urban) environment. She realized large scale performance installations such as (Im)Potencia (Sophiensaele Berlin, 2010; Black Box Theater, Oslo, 2010; Club Cultural Matienzo, Buenos Aires, 2011), the site specific work Tyskerjenter—War Brides (Island Hovedøya, Oslo, Norway, 2008,09), and the audio video walk Present Past (Oslo, 2013). Further, her prize winning video installations have been shown at festivals like Video Medeja Festival (Serbia Montenegro), Film Winter Festival (Stuttgart) or Moscow Biennale. In 2012-13, Veronika held a scholarship from the DAAD—German Cultural Exchange Service, and in 2009, she received a one-year working grant from the Norwegian Cultural Council. She has also worked as external curator for the Norwegian Film Institute, as guest lecturer at KhIO, NTA and at the film academy in Ludwigsburg.
Camilla Eeg-Tverbakk is currently a research fellow at Norwegian Theatre Academy, and PhD student at Roehampton University, London. From 2007 to 2011, she held the position of Artistic Director for the acting program at Østfold University College/Norwegian Theatre Academy. She works as dramaturg in independent projects as well as in collaboration with directors and choreographers in Norway and internationally. She has also been active as a curator, teacher, and lecturer since 1997. She trained as performer and theater artist at Ècole Jacques Lecoq, and holds an MA in Performance Studies from NYU, and an MA in Theatre Science from the University in Oslo. Eeg-Tverbakk was the editor of Dans i samtiden, a book on Norwegian contemporary dance (Spartacus 2006), and Performance Art by Baktruppen, first part (Kontur 2009).
Serge von Arx, Professor of Scenography, is the Artistic Director of the Scenography Department of the Norwegian Theatre Academy (of the Østfold University College) and an independent architect and scenographer. In 1997 Serge von Arx earned his degree in architecture at the ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology). After two years of work experience within architecture and exhibition design in Paris, he began his professional career as assistant stage-designer in Hamburg. In 1998 he began collaborating with Robert Wilson on numerous stage, exhibition, and installation design projects all over the world. Since 2003, he has been a regular mentor and architectural consultant at the “Watermill Center” on Long Island, New York. In 1999 he became a member of the Swiss Association of Engineers and Architects. In 2001 he opened a design studio in Berlin and since 2006—the same year he was appointed the Artistic Director of the Scenography Department at the Norwegian Theatre Academy—he has been a resident of Oslo. Serge von Arx expanded the academy’s portfolio with a MA in scenography, launched in early 2015. Today he lectures and implements workshops at various international universities and other institutions. Serge von Arx’s research focuses on the encounter of architecture and theatre. He inquires this field of “performative architecture” in theory with various international publications and in practice. Currently Mr. von Arx is curating the architecture section for the Prague Quadrennial 2015.
Øystein Elle is currently employed as an artistic research fellow at the Norwegian Theatre Academy/Østfold University College. Previously he was an assistant professor at the same institution, teaching voice, singing, and improvisation/composition. He studied singing (baritone and countertenor) composition, conducting, and piano at the Music Academy in Utrecht, the Netherlands (MA), and at the Conservatory of Music at Agder University (BA). He works in several disciplines as a performing and creating artist: singer, actor, composer, and producer, as well as having developed his own interdisciplinary artistic projects. As a singer, Øystein specializes in the field of Baroque music, but with his experience in various bands, and as a performer of contemporary and experimental music, he often mixes various musical expressions. As a performer and as a composer, Øystein has worked at a number of theater institutions and independent groups, including Dansens Hus, Theatre of Cruelty, Teater Innlandet, Nord Trøndelag Teater, Dramatikkens hus, Karstein Solli productions, Østfold Teater, and was a co-founder of the Oslo Baroque Opera. As composer, as solo performer in various music ensembles, and through his multi-year collaboration with Karstein Solli Productions, Øystein has visited festivals and toured Norway, Germany, Finland, Israel, Chile, Brazil, Italy, France, and the Netherlands. He has also premiered a number of musical works by foreign and Norwegian composers.
Karmenlara Ely is the current Artistic Director of Acting at Østfold University College/Norwegian Theatre Academy. Before coming to Norway, Karmenlara taught at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she holds a PhD in Performance Studies. She collaborates as a performer, dramaturg, and scenic costumer on theater, festival, and performance works in New York, Northern Europe, and the Americas, including recent projects with Spiderwoman Theater. She is the project leader for the Norwegian artistic research project Infinite Record: Archive, Memory, Performance, with institutional partners at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US, York St. John in UK, and Muthesius Kunsthochschule in Kiel, Germany. Karmenlara teaches performance workshops and lectures internationally. Her research focuses on the critical roles of the body and desire in taboo breaking performances and on the complexities of pleasure and consumption in artistic processes.
Karen Kipphoff was educated as a visual artist, puppeteer, and in drama education in Germany. Kipphoff has worked at Schaubühne Berlin, Kammerspiele Hamburg and Theater am Turm, Frankfurt. She uses photography, performance, and installation as her artistic medium and has exhibited and performed at the Museum of Contemporary Art Bucharest, Bergen Kunsthall; The Museum of Novyj Sad, BIT Teatergarasjen Bergen; and at Uferstudios Berlin. Previously she taught in Bergen and Berlin and is presently a professor at Østfold University College/Norwegian Theatre Academy. In 2011 Karen Kipphoff co-founded the Performance Art Bergen network, organizing and co-curating several events. Recent publications include Never? Now? Performance Art!, Horizon (Revolver Publishing Berlin, 2012), and Instrumental Objects as Playful Subjects (Oslo, 2014).
Serge von Arx, Professor of Scenography, is the Artistic Director of the Scenography Department of Norwegian Theatre Academy/Østfold University College and an independent architect and scenographer. In 1997 Serge von Arx earned his degree in architecture at the ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology). After two years of work experience within architecture and exhibition design in Paris, he began his professional career as assistant stage-designer in Hamburg. In 1998 he began collaborating with Robert Wilson on numerous stage, exhibition, and installation design projects all over the world. Since 2003, he has been a regular mentor and architectural consultant at the “Watermill Center” on Long Island, New York. In 1999 he became a member of the Swiss Association of Engineers and Architects. In 2001 he opened a design studio in Berlin and since 2006—the same year he was appointed the Artistic Director of the Scenography Department at Norwegian Theatre Academy—he has been a resident of Oslo. Serge von Arx expanded the academy’s portfolio with a MA in scenography, launched in early 2015. Today he lectures and implements workshops at various international universities and other institutions. Serge von Arx’s research focuses on the encounter of architecture and theater. He inquires this field of “performative architecture” in theory with various international publications and in practice. Currently Mr. von Arx is curating the architecture section for the Prague Quadrennial 2015.
Click below to read a long excerpt from the book.