Interview with Jacqueline Brockel

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Jacqueline Brockel is an environmental designer and theatre artist. As a Jersey grown painter (you just thought ‘tomato’), she has showed her visual works in New Jersey spaces including Porch Light Productions in Glen Rock, NJ and The New Jersey Art Commission. Now as a New York based artist, her environmental designs transform spaces such as the Access Theater this past June for Matthew Gasda’s Denmark, directed by Vanessa Koppel, and the Brooklyn Art Library this past August for Howard Brenton’s Bloody Poetry, directed by Matthew Gasda. Currently studying drama at the New York University Tisch School of the Arts, she takes classes at Playwrights Horizons Theater School and is mentored by set design extraordinaire, Deb O. A sample of her visual art works can be seen on her art website, www.jacquelinebrockel.com.

Why theater?

Art is the way I process all of the emotions I have about existence. It gives me everything I need as a human being who is struggling with humanity. I’m naturally curious and want to learn as much as possible and feel a deep need to process it in a physical way. This is how I learn- asking questions and processing them with art. 

Specifically, with live theatre, the audience are able to see life and it’s a process (asking and answering questions) in a realistic way. There are people in the room with other people creating situations that hopefully will spark inspirations and thought. It’s different from movie or paintings that are contained in a frame. Theatre (at least the kind of theatre that I like and the ones I like to make) allows you to become immersed into the environment. 

Why Ardor?

Ardor is a very personal and relatable for me. When I’m living my day to day life, I’m often reminded of a situation, conversation, or line in Ardor. There’s a feeling of relevance that connects with many situations I face. It expresses an overwhelming feeling with life. Matt described it perfectly: getting that feeling of “time passing”. So Ardor because it is an outlet for what we feel with time passing. 

What inspires you?

For the past years – definitely since being in New York City-  I’ve been looking out and looking into various windows and exploring the dimensions that can be contained and concealed into the frame of a window. My recent work captures a portal of hopeful possibility and a teasing barrier of distance. A major question I am asking right now is: “How exactly we are to navigate the duality of finding pleasure in the experience of individual consciousness while maintaining the responsibilities and love of social connections?” In terms of specific artists that I have been going wild over in the past month or so: Francis Bacon, Adrian Ghenie, and Nigel Cooke. 

So what exactly is environmental design and how do you go about creating the stage?

When you are in a certain environment all your conversation comes from that environment. For example, if you in a dark candlelight room, it’s more romantic. If you are in a more sterile room, you may not want to open up as much.  Environmental design means you are building a house (where people live) on stage instead of just an abstract world. 

Everything on stage is there for a reason.  I want to have a lot of moments with actors and ask them when they felt very connected with their characters through objects that inspire them (e.g. an artist, a music CD, a piece of clothing…) and make my set like that- with objects that open up dialogue and inspiration the actors while they are [living] on stage.

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