Theatre, Film, and Television Biographies
Maurice Jarre to Lawrence N. Kasha
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
First Stage Work
- set designer, Ardèle, Anouilh, Guthrie Theatre Company at Croford Livingston Theatre, St. Paul, MN, 1969.
First New York Stage Work
- scenic designer, Cyrano (the musical), Palace Theatre, 1973.
Principal Stage Work
- set designer for Ceremonies in Dark Old Men, Guthrie Theatre, Minneapolis, MN, 1970; The Thurber Carnival and The Lion in Winter,Actors Theatre of Louisville, KY, 1970; Cyrano de Bergerac and Taming of the Shrew, Guthrie, 1971; A Touch of the Poet, Guthrie, 1971; The Diary of a Scoundrel, Guthrie, 1971; The White House MurderCase, Milwaukee Repertory, 1971; A Midsummer Night's Dream, Guthrie, 1972; The Government Inspector, Guthrie, 1973; La Turista, Milwaukee Repertory, 1974; King Lear, Guthrie, 1974; Love'sLabour Lost, Guthrie, 1974; Street Scene, American Conservatory Theatre, San Francisco, CA, 1975; The Ruling Class, American Conservatory Theatre, 1975; Mourning Becomes Electra, Goodman, Chicago, 1976; This Is ... An Entertainment, American Conservatory Theatre, 1976; Uncle Vanya, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, 1977; Richard III, Goodman, Chicago, 1977; Travesties, American Conservatory Theatre, 1977; TheSea Plays, Long Wharf, New Haven, CT, 1978; The Philadelphia Story, Long Wharf, 1978; Romeo and Juliet, Acting Company, New York, 1978;Antigone, Acting Company, New York, 1978; Of Mice and Men, Pittsburgh Public, 1978; Vanities and Ashes, Pittsburgh Public, 1979; Rosmersholm, Long Wharf, 1979; Hillbilly Women, Long Wharf,1979; Of Mice and Men, American Stage Festival, 1979; The Visions of Smone Machard, All the Way Home, The Miser, Jumpers, and 1959 Pink Thunderbird, McCarter, Princeton, NJ, 1979-80; Watch on the Rhine,Long Wharf, 1979, and Golden Theatre, New York, 1980; Damn Yankees, Hartford State Company, 1979; He and She, Brooklyn Academy of Music Theatre Company, 1980; Cassatt, Playhouse 46, 1980; The Lion in Winter and Private Lives, Long Wharf, 1980-81; Zapata, Goodspeed Opera House, 1980; Black River, Minnesota Opera House, 1980; The Play's the Thing, McCarter, 1981; In the Jungle of Cities, Brooklyn Academy of Music, 1981; Arms and the Man, Williamstown Theatre Festival, 1981; Just Between Ourselves, McCarter, 1981; Constance and the Musician, Geva, 1982; Tartuffe, Pittsburgh Public, 1982; TheFront Page, Long Wharf, 1982; Talley's Folly and Inherit the Wind, Cincinnati Playhouse, OH, 1982; The Man Who Had Three Arms, Goodman, Chicago, 1982.
- Sets and costumes for The Tempest, and A Play by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Guthrie, 1970; Guys and Dolls, Dartmouth College, 1972;Of Mice and Men, Guthrie, 1972; The Crucible, Guthrie, 1974; Loot, Guthrie, 1975; The Cherry Orchard, Center Stage, Baltimore,1976; The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, Minnesota Opera, St. Paul, 1977. Sets and lighting for An Italian Straw Hat, Guthrie, 1972; La Traviata, Music Associates of Aspen, 1975; The Millionairess, Shaw Festival, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON, Canada; Uncle Vanya, andPresent Laughter, Royal Alexandra Theatre Company, Toronto, 1978. WithDesmond Heeley and Robert Scales, designed the stage for the international tour of the Stratford Festival Theatre of Canada, 1972. Created an "environment for children" based on Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, part ofthe Christmas festivities at Dayton's Department Store, Minneapolis, 1976. For the American Ballet Theatre's 1981 production of Carmen, Mr.Jensen reconstructed the scenery and costumes from the original 1949 designsby Antonio Clave.
- Teacher of design, Carnegie-Mellon University; head of design department,Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University.
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