Q&A with Kate Pendry
Fredrikstad – with NTA and ØIT – is a dream town for theatre practice, as far as I am concerned, says playwright and actress Kate Pendry.
Pendry is performing her critically acclaimed My Dinner With Putin at Østfold Internasjonale Teater on Saturday 15. April. She is no stranger to Fredrikstad and the theatre, as you will discover in this brief Q&A.
(Photo from the performance My Dinner With Putin, Tormod Lindgren).
On the relationship with ØIT
Q: You’ve worked with ØIT before – how did the relationship start?
A: I have worked with Thomas (Østgaard, theatre director) many times over the last ten years. We’ve collaborated on quite experimental works (the Dunkel festival is one production that had a great impact on my artistic practice. Performing in complete darkness makes you evaluate everything you thought you knew about theatre!) Thomas has also directed two manuscripts I have written – Myke Øyne and Dropout. Both touched on very difficult subjects (the refugee crisis and dropouts from high schools) – and with Thomas’s creative vision the productions became very well-known and much performed.
For me Thomas is a creative who uses technology and space in really unusual ways. I’ve always been inspired working with him.
On artist’s residencies
Q: The performance My Dinner With Putin started as a Scratch residency at ØIT?
A: Yes. I was sitting on this incredible story, this incredible event that had happened to me, and I thought it could be told theatrically. I didn’t know where to start but I needed to experiment in a very trusted environment. So, I applied for a short residency at ØIT because I knew they would understand what I was trying to unravel. I was lucky enough to be given a residency last year. I was in a clumsy phase of trying to work out how the story should be told, and Thomas gave me some artistic feedback that was very helpful. Bjørn Gunnar Otten (the teknisk sjef at ØIT) set me up in the room with camera and sound equipment, so I really had this incredible space to play in. (Bjørn was my technical tour manager back in the early 2000’s – so this is also another reason why ØIT feels like ‘home’ for me.)
Q: Why was the residency important?
A: We didn’t often get a chance to try things out in a low tempo in “fri-teater”. And this can lead to rushing productions and not feeling secure in the work you do. At least that has been my experience. I knew that My Dinner With Putin was an important work in my catalogue – I didn’t know why, but I knew I had to give it the kindest space to develop. So, it was quite natural for me to approach ØIT – a house and people I really trust, who know the kind of work I do and could help me to expand on it.
Q: …and Fredrikstad?
A: Well, I’ll be honest – the NTA (Norwegian Theatre Academy – is to my mind the foremost educational establishment for theatre practitioners in the country. It’s a matter of taste of course, but many of the artists I most admire and collaborate with trained at NTA. (Lisa Lie, Rebecca/Huy and of course Mads Sjøgård Pettersen – who is the director of My Dinner With Putin). The NTA has this perfect combination of encouraging its students to find their artistic voice, but it also trains them in the important fundaments of the craft (voice, spacial awareness, text). I love the place, so Fredrikstad – with NTA and ØIT is a dream town for theatre practice, as far as I am concerned.