Building a school. What’s Under the Hood?

In 2004, I established The International Theatre Academy Norway (TITAN), which is based in Oslo, Norway. TITAN is currently in its seventh year of skuepsillerutdanningoperation.

There are essentially ten principles that were the foundation of my thinking and goals in building TITAN.

1. I wanted to establish a school that filled some of the “gaps” that I perceived in my own process of education. Over my twenty years of doing theatre, I have come to know many artists. I perceived a pattern, watching these friends after they graduated from school. More often than not, they would flounder upon graduation, not having any real sense of direction, of how to pursue their careers. They had little considerable business skills. I wanted to offer a solution to this sizable problem: The Starving Artist.

2. Many theatre directors throughout history created new theatre aesthetics and theatrical movements as a reaction to their boredom of the status quo. In creating TITAN, I strove to create an environment where students could learn about varied world theatrical aesthetics, which they might then use as inspiration in the creation of new forms.

3. Many of my colleagues and friends in theatre relied almost entirely on other people to give the work: casting directors, directors, producers, etc. I strove to create a school that teaches artists to create opportunities for themselves, to be more self sufficient in their career pursuits, while simultaneously teaching them to move effectively in the market, to compete for existing commercial opportunities.

4. Knowing that the vast majority of opportunities for actors come in front of a camera, theatre artists need skills in film acting, which are different from those typically found in theatre training. Those in-front-of camera opportunities are also typically where the money is to be found, opportunities which will help the artists make a living.

5. To be more independent, artists need to know, not only how to develop original works of theatre, but also have skills in writing, directing, acting and producing. They need to know how to market their works, to promote them, how to generate press and shape a public image. They need to have entrepreneurial skills, as many will go on to lead and create jobs for others–through the development of their original visions, creativity and job-creation. Today, in our digital age, Artists need wider and more diverse skill sets.

6. The school should be international in way of both philosophy, student body and faculty. Peter Brook’s legendary company, The International Center of Theatre Research, which is in Paris, is an assembly of actors, musicians, dancers performers of other mediums, that represents many nationalities. This diversity brings different cultural customs and thinking with it. Each company member has something unique to offer–their culture and unique perspectives. With these many perspectives from many nationalities, ideas are brought into the group, which might not otherwise exist. With this understanding, we have given great focus on developing our international quality. To date, TITAN has had students representing Norway, the United States, Denmark, Sweden, Lithuania, Iran, Iraq, Albania, Ireland, and Poland. We have had teachers representing Norway, the United States, Denmark, Iceland, Australia, Bali and Russia. We teach our students not just about western theatrical traditions, but world theatre traditions so that students gain a wider source of inspiration from which to create. All great artists steal. The more students have to steal from, the better. Sources of inspiration translates to mean having tools.

7. The school should offer discipline development–the sort of discipline one finds in a marathon runner. Marathon runners can overcome their significant pain (or obstacles) in running so far and often and they train nearly everyday, as they must to keep their endurance. Discipline is the key to perseverance and development.

8. Good leaders are good followers. Communication is key to collaboration and leadership. Students typically need to learn how to effectively communicate. Communication skills will serve them in all relating matters.

9. Students learn best by doing. It is one thing to hear someone speak about something. It is entirely different to experience it for yourself. To facilitate this in our learning environment, students are made to create many original works of theatre, which are student written, directed, produced and acted in. This year, the students at TITAN will create twenty two shows (from thirty students). They very often do these shows in the community of Oslo, in professional spaces, in a process in which they must be entirely self-sufficient. They gather their own resources, find a space and navigate that contract process. They raise funds, develop press, market their shows and hopefully, turn a profit–for that is the principle goal–to teach them how to creatively and structurally turn a profit from their creativity (and make a living doing so).

10. Students learn best by having opportunities to fail. If one can potentially fail (and fail hard), it means they are taking risk. If one is going to live a bold life as an artist, they must be ok with risk and be willing to engage it. Risk could lead to failure, but it could also lead to success.

With all of these ideas in mind, I founded The International Theatre Academy Norway or TITAN Theatre Academy.

Check out our website and friend us on Facebook for updates concerning events, performances and other exciting news about our highly active program.

TITAN is currently accepting applications for the class of 2013. To learn more about TITAN, visit our website.

Apply today by Clicking Here.

Jim Hart is the founder and Rektor of The International Theatre Academy Norway.


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