John Jensen Biography (1933-)

Addresses: Home: 51 Fifth Ave., New York, NY, 10003.

"I am among a group of fortunate people who have had a career thanks to the regional theatre movement in America. The regional theatres, particularly theTyrone Guthrie Theatre, gave me an extraordinary place to work at my craft inan atmosphere and amongst other craftsmen where one could not help but learnand grow. I started in the theatre as a performer--even had my equity card--before making a decision, rather late, to put all my energy into design--something I hadn't done since high school. Working with Jo Mielziner, an extraordinary two years, mostly because of the man as a person, gave me my firstlook at Broadway close up. It was not what I was looking for in the theatre.Odd circumstances brought me to the Guthrie to work in the property department. Here I found rich soil for my growth. With the help of generous people--Tanya Moiseiwitch, Peter Zisler, Michael Langham--I discovered the sort of theatre where serious exploration is built on respect, trust, honesty, and greatgood humor.... Our work was, of course, flawed at times, but it never lackedfor serious pursuit of fine, honest theatre. That read through it all. Here Ilearned what my goal in all the work should be: an authentic visual extension of the playwright. There is no question in my mind that art is craft practiced with perception. Most of us who work as commissioned, commercial artistsare first and foremost craftsmen. On occasion, when we are allowed to look beyond the horizon for a glimpse of what is there, our well-oiled craft lets usshare it with others.... I'm no athlete at all, but love to swim. Traveling is a great pleasure. I've spent a lot of time in Europe, particularlyItaly--lived in Florence for four months. Favorite city there: Naples. Theatre is a way of life. Birth certificates are written on the backs of Equity cards, I believe. I love mountains. Would have been a sculptor. Shape is the most telling visual thing in the theatre. I came into design through the theatre, not through art or architecture. Because of this, I constantly wage an inner battle over my painting and drawing skills--always wanting to improve my communication ability. As a result, some of my happiest hours away from the theatre are in life drawing sessions."

stage designer
Birth Details
December 20, 1933
Weiser, Idaho

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