An Interview with Amy Nostbakken…

Tell us about your work with Theatre Ad Infinitum? 

During my time with Ad infinitum I co-created, composed and performed the one-woman show The Big Smoke, was part of the ensemble in Ballad of the Burning Star and am part of the ensemble and musical director for Bucket List. The productions seem to get bigger and more ambitious as the years roll on, which makes sense. As you mature you realise what’s really important, what is worth fighting for…why do I make theatre? Because there is a story that needs to be told, a voice that is being silenced and I have the tools, I have the privilege, I have the platform from which to deliver it to a wider audience. We’re so lucky to be able to do what we do; I take it on as a real responsibility. Bucket List is a great example – Theatre Ad infinitum wants to fly a big whack of women from all over the globe to London, and we do not hesitate to jump on a plane, why? Because we have got to get this story out. It’s got to get out.

How do you connect with the company and it’s (way of) theatre-making?

The plays that Theatre Ad Infinitum creates can only be achieved through the devising process. They are collective creations. Even if it is a one-person show, it is written as a team, shaped as a team. The performers think like writers and directors, there is very little ego; all the energy is focussed on the work – the story we need to tell. We are all here in service of the story (so it had better be a really urgent, important story or else we’re all working our butts off and tearing our hair out for nothing). I do not know any other way of working. Well no, I know other ways, we’ve met, but I don’t’ much care for them. Creating within the confines of an inflexible script written by someone who is long dead, and then directed by someone who doesn’t have any interest in my opinions during the rehearsal process…is not for me. Devising is mad, it’s insane and horribly frustrating sometimes, but it’s also incredible, and hilarious and makes magic.

What are the important issues / What have you learnt during the research for the show?

Working on this show reminds me that we need to be brave theatre makers. Some of the issues we are tackling in Bucket List are terrifying because the stories we are telling are describing the lives of real people, living under horrific circumstances and we – you and me and every audience member who will see this show are directly connected to them. Admitting hypocrisy is scary. Naming names is risky. Taking responsibility is absolutely necessary.

This isn’t a fairy tale or a myth or an adaptation, this is a true story about how the rich take advantage of the poor, right now, today. And if you think you are exempt from this truism ask yourself who made the shirt you’re wearing or the car you are driving or the chocolate bar you bought yesterday because the odds are, if you didn’t research before purchasing, it was made by a child or an abused factory worker being paid slave wages in a sweat shop by a western corporation which was made possible by a treaty like Nafta or the new Trans-Pacific Partnership so that we can buy more crap that we don’t need at cheaper prices.

During this process I am constantly catching myself in my own daily hypocrisy. It requires a bit of re-wiring, to not only empathise with those who have it bad in a distant country, but to admit that I am contributing to their misery and declare that I will actively do something about it.

What advice would you offer theatre makers at the beginning of their careers?

The same advice I was given when I left theatre school – only do good work.

What is your greatest achievement as an artist?

Winning the Oscar the Tony and the Grammy. Oh wait that wasn’t me. Next Question.

What do you like to do when you are not making theatre?

Be in bed. With snacks.

-Amy Nostbakken, actor/musician, composer, musical director


Ad Infinitum

Provoke. Move. Inspire.