The internship that resulted in a job offer.

Noémie Jorez at work, with Plexus Polaire Claire Costa    The French student of Performing Arts Administration and Management, Noémie Jorez, spent most of 2021 doing an internship with Figurteatret. Now she is a employee of Plexus Polaire.

The Covid situation made border crossings almost impossible. The internship was postponed and endangered many times. But was in the end fulfilled both digitally, and on site in Stamsund, at Figurteatret.

We had a chat with Noémie to talk about her internship, and how she actually ended up with getting a job offer the moment she put her foot back on French soil.


Here's the interview:  
As part of your studies of Performing Arts Administration and Management you needed to do an internship in a professional theatre. How did you learn about NVT, and why did you ask NVT for an internship? What were your expectations?


It all started when I was doing another internship, at Ljubljana’s Puppet Theatre (Slovenia). I was talking with my tutor, Pija Bodlaj, when she mentioned this Norwegian theatre specialized in puppetry far up north. I was intrigued. And I had never heard of it before. I went online right away, checked everything I could about this theatre. When I realized they were not only working around puppetry but that they were also welcoming companies from all around the world… I knew it was a place I needed to go to. It felt like it had been designed specifically for me and my interests. Then, COVID-19 happened, I was sent back to France and couldn’t go back to Ljubljana. Months passed. I still needed to do a long-term internship and I was thinking about NVT a lot. I simply told myself: “Well, you wanted to go to Ljubljana so bad that it happened, why wouldn’t it be the case with Stamsund?”. So I did what I had done with Ljubljana Puppet Theater: I sent an email to Geir-Ove Andersen, NVT’s Managing Director and asked if they would be interested in having an intern. I didn’t even know if I was going to get an answer… But Geir-Ove did reply to me. They had never had an Administration/Production intern before. After a few emails though, we decided to give it a go. And that is the story of how he actually became my tutor.


Tell us a bit about how it is to be an intern, at a theatre in the Arctic, north of the polar circle, in a small village.


It was such a great experience! You wake up in your rorbu, your little red wooden fisherman’s cabin. You leave your place, cross the bridge and get astonished by the view. The mountains, the sea… It strikes me every time. You get to the theatre. You make yourself a cup of tea, wait for everyone to arrive, get involved in a hundred different conversations about arts, politics, geography, history… And start your day, full of puppet magic, interesting administrative work and incredible people. Some day, you go to another theatre (there are 3!) and work on another theatre magic with other great people. If you are lucky, it is sunny – and you can go on a hike at the end of your day. If it is not, it’s okay – you can still have a nice dinner with your colleagues, go see a show/concert or go back home and enjoy the amazing Lofoten Islands from your window. I have to say, and everyone will tell you: Stamsund is a special place. Your soul can only feel at peace. It is perfect for artists to create… I discovered that it was also perfect for interns to learn. And I now believe that it is impossible to leave without thinking that one day you will be back.

(The interview continues below the picture)

Noémie on Justadtinden, with a view of the Lofoten Islands Line Andreassen    

The internship was supposed to start in February 2021, and end in June 2021. You actually stayed until October 6th. What happened?


It was 3 or 4 days before I was supposed to fly to Stamsund and start my new life in the North. Everything was ready: I had my plane tickets, my backpack was full, everyone at the theatre was expecting me… That is when I got an email from Geir-Ove. The number of COVID-19 cases in Europe was going up again and the Norwegian government had decided to close their borders the next day. I had 24 hours to attempt an escape – or be condemned to not be able to enter the country. I first thought about leaving for Paris right away… Unfortunately, you cannot change your plans to cross half of the world that fast. So we had to postpone. I remember Geir-Ove telling me it would last at least 2 weeks… Well, it lasted 6 months. I honestly thought it was going to get cancelled after a while. But I managed to cross the border at the end of July!


During the internship you worked on several tasks with several co-production partners. Tell us a little bit about who you worked with and what you did during your time at NVT. 


While I was still stuck at home, Geir-Ove and I organized a virtual internship to start involving me in the theatre’s activities. I got to meet Extraordinary Bodies, a circus company based in the UK, and Danselaboratoriet, a dance company based in Norway, both working with disabled artists. The idea was to connect partners who had a lot in common and try to see it could give birth to a new artistic project.

When I finally got to Stamsund, the Norwegian-American puppet company, Wakka Wakka Productions was in residency at Figurteatret. They had a brand new cast for their show The Immortal Jellyfish Girl, mostly based in France – and there was numerous administrative tasks to take on: to help them transfer their social rights to France, for example. I worked on different production tasks for their company too: I started an artistic dossier for the show, looked at venues and festivals where the company could tour in Europe, residencies and grants they could get.

Geir-Ove also involved me in the planning and budgeting of the theatre’s activities for the next seasons. With Anne Silje (NVT’s Producer), we focused on creating a Youtube channel for NVT. She also explained me a lot about how you build a tour in Nordland, the county the theatre is implemented in. In September, it was Figurteatret’s 30th anniversary: we organized that too!

In parallel, I met Cristina Granados and Andreas Eilertsen - and got to work with another theatre in Stamsund, E&G. I gave them a hand as they applied with 6 other partners for the Perform Europe program, with a project around new ways of touring and participation of local communities in rural areas.

I also met the Netherlands-based companies, Het Houten Huis and De Witte Pomp, as well as the Norwegian company, Katma.


After returning to France, you were immediately given a job offer. Congratulations! How did you get to know Plexus Polaire, and what will you be working on with them?


I actually met Claire Costa, Plexus Polaire’s Producer, thanks to Geir-Ove Andersen. Figurteatret has a long history of working with Plexus Polaire and supporting Yngvild Aspeli’s works. When I told him I had plans to go to Paris last May to go see their at-the-time-new show, Moby Dick, he put me in contact with her. I was expecting Claire to be extremely busy (the last thing I wanted was to bother her), but she took the time to have a real conversation with me and to answer all my questions. She even showed me backstage after the show. I also met Yngvild that day, which, for someone who is passionate about puppetry like me, was a bit of a dream come true. After that, we stayed in contact, called each other a few times. Then, one day, Claire told me that they were thinking about opening a new position and that they were interested in hiring me. I couldn’t believe it ! So of course, I said yes.


I am now working closely with Claire, my missions mainly revolving around production, administration, communication and logistics. I am currently on tour with the crew of Moby Dick in Southern France to be the link between the venue, the performers/technicians and the rest of the company’s administration. I also try to spark an interest from other professionals and new audiences for the show. Next week, I will be back to Paris, where I will follow the last rehearsals and the premiere of Yngvild’s new show, Dracula.


There are quite some chances that yours and NVTs paths cross again in the world of the visual theatre. What are your thoughts on that?


I can’t wait to work again with NVT. It is a place where great puppet, visual pieces happen – it is actually well-known around the world for the quality of its coproduction’s. And it is a privilege to know the team who helps realize so many beautiful projects. So I truly hope we can meet again in the future and work on something together. Now that Yngvild Aspeli has been nominated as Figurteatret’s Artistic Director, it seems even more likely it will happen. This is exciting!


And would you say the internship at NVT matched your expectations?


I knew from the beginning that this internship was going to be a challenge, we had talked a lot about it. I was interested in administration, production and management, which is usually not why people come to a theatre like NVT, and I didn’t speak Norwegian, which was less of a problem but still limited me. However, if I look back at my experience… It was even better than I thought it would be. Geir-Ove and Anne Silje shared all their knowledge and expertise with me. I was constantly working on something interesting, very autonomously, and they always trusted me. More importantly, I genuinely felt like I was part of the team. Everyone at the theatre welcomed me and treated me as if I had always been there. I was part of all the discussions, never left aside because I was only the intern, included in as many activities as possible. I was even given a Figurteatret hoodie and sent on the tour with the rest of the team! How better could it be?

Noémie at work for Plexus Polaire Claire Costa