Meet the Makers: The Valentina's Anders Falstie-Jensen
Published: Friday 26 January, 2024
In this edition of Meet the Makers we talk to writer, producer and theatre director Anders Falstie-Jensen about his show The Valentina, commissioned by Auckland Live and coming soon to Auckland Arts Festival. Read on to learn about this maker’s art practice, inspirations and what to expect at The Valentina.
Introduce yourself and your arts practice.
My name is Anders Falstie-Jensen and I write, produce and direct theatre for The Rebel Alliance.
What’s your favourite thing about what you do?
As a writer I love chasing an initial idea to its endpoint because it’s like going on a voyage into the unknown. What will I find there? Tremendous tragedy? Cracking comedy? Treadmills? Lots of chalk and cake? Weird aliens? Whatever I find, it’s always a wild ride.
As a director I love seeing amazing performers, designers and technicians come together to create something that is bigger than all of us.
As a producer, I do like being able to create jobs for offers and in the process realise my own creative dreams! There’s gotta be some payoff for slogging through all the admin.
What’s the hardest thing about what you do?
It’s very hard to make a living doing theatre.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“Keep showing up and do what you want to do.”
Who are your favourite artists/theatre companies/musicians etc. and why?
These are three I often think about:
Movement of the Human - Whatever Malia makes, I’m there for it. The way she collaborates and manages to create - not just incredible images - but a sense of joy, is unparalleled.
Danish theatre company called Fix + Foxy because they make theatre that is wild and speaks to the present.
… And of course Swedish filmmaker Roy Andersson. His films Songs from the Second Floor and A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence are guiding stars for me when I’m lost. They’re depressing, hilarious, disturbing and incredibly beautiful. What else can you ask for?
How have Auckland Live supported you through the years and what does this support mean to you?
Auckland Live has been an intrinsic part of my working life. I worked there as a casual lighting technician when I was straight out of uni and even did a stint at the box office too.
The Rebel Alliance presented its very first show, The Orderly, at Herald Theatre in 2006 as part of an amazing programme called STAMP back when Auckland Live was called The Edge. In the following years we also did a handful of other shows in the Herald: A Night of French Mayhem, The Bomb and Watching Paint Dry.
Now of course, Auckland Live commissioned The Valentina for its premiere in the Auckland Arts Festival.
It’s difficult making theatre, not just in New Zealand but anywhere, so you rely on people and organisations to back you and your work. For me the people working inside the Aotea Centre have given me that backing in all sorts of different ways over the years and I’m very grateful for that.
Tell us about your upcoming show The Valentina.
The Valentina is an adaptation of a short story called, The Ceiling, that I originally wrote for my son, Anton, when he was much smaller than he is today. The stage version I wrote with my daughter, Clara, in mind.
The Ceiling was about a boy called Anton, who ends up going on an amazing adventure on his spaceship.
The stage play is about a girl called Ellen, who ends up going on an amazing adventure on her space ship, ‘The Valentina’. Her co-pilots are Neil Armstrong, Yuri Gagarin and Valentina Tereshkova. Most people probably know Armstrong and Gagarin but Tereshkova’s story is really interesting to me. She is the only woman to ever fly a solo mission and was the first woman in space. She took off on a Vostok 6 rocket in 1963 when she was 26 years old.
I’m big fan of space and sci-fi. I’m endlessly fascinated by the space race and films like Apollo 13, Starship Troopers, Aliens and I could go on and on and on. And on. My happy place is the dark sky reserve in Lake Tākapo. Sure, I wrote the play for kids but everything I write I deep down also write for myself. I’m biased of course but I think The Valentina is hilarious!!!
What can audiences expect from The Valentina?
Spaceships, loathsome trillionaires, a freaky alien and a great night out for the whole whānau. We’ve got amazing performers and amazing designers and we intend to pull out all the stops!!!