Jacques Seferian Matthiessen was born in Copenhagen in 1960.
He grew up in a cross-cultural and artistic/intellectual context with a Danish father, who was Painter, Sculptor and Theater maker and a French-Armenian mother, who was Teacher and Professor in French. They travelled a lot in Europe and for two years, they even lived and worked in Algeria during the emancipatory period in the 60’s.
Jacques began to work with Performing Arts already in 1977, just 17 years old - as a dancer and physical performer. His education in the techniques, the dramaturgical universe and the deeper understanding of Performing Arts grew into his body and mind by Masters and by hard work.
As teenager, he joined classes by Ann Crosset in Copenhagen, Etienne Decroux and Yves Lebreton in Paris, learning ‘mime corporel’. He joined Teatro Potlatch and Farfa/ Pino di Buodo and Iben Nagel Rasmussen in Italy, both under the wings of Odin Theatre. In an age at 23, he was teaching coming actors at the National Danish for Performing Arts – in physical drama and acting.
In 1986, he started his career as Playwright and Stage Director, as an assistant for some of the most outstanding Directors in Denmark on the big scenes and – on his own – for children’s theater.
His deep understanding for the physical drama/language, his intuitive and ‘simple’ connection with the child’s way of thinking and feeling and his very personal, strong (and smooth) artistically choices, made him to a popular Stage Director within the genre and have ever since written more than 50 plays and directed around 70 performances – in Denmark. For adults and for children and youngsters.
From the very beginning, by birth and family and in professional career, he have had a strong and mandatory connection to the cross-cultural and international field. As dancer and performed he toured a lot internationally and his productions have been touring internationally. In 1992, he got his first job as Playwright and Director outside Denmark – in Italy, which have been followed by Turkey, Russia, Nepal, Burkina Faso, Uganda, Uruguay, Croatia, Mali, Tanzania, Sweden and Greenland ….
In 2007, Jacques founded Passepartout Theatre Production/PTP, as ‘his own’ theatre organization – with focus on the intercultural, international network, on collaborations and production – for high qualitative theater productions and performances for children and the whole family.
PTP has – following Jacques – a high philanthropic and artistic ambition. PTP work and creates projects and productions in Denmark and abroad – about difficult subjects in Human life, with respect for the actual mindset and culture.
Jacques’ artistic form and methods have, in a way, no name. He do not follow a certain school, genre or set of rules in creating his plays/performances. Nevertheless, you can see and feel for sure, when a performance is made by Jacques.
Jacques want to tell stories – about life, joy, sorrow, conflicts, war, love and friendship - to be a Human Being. He write stories himself or work with other Playwrights pieces, but he also often chose old Folktales and Fairy tales because of the good story, wisdom and ‘morale’.
To tell the story, he chose the genre and visual form he think would be the most suitable, fitting or exciting to use - for this very story. He work with traditional theater, with nonverbal theater, with musical-based performances and concerts and with puppet-theater in all forms. The form is a way and a tool to tell a story. In this choice, the practical reality as budget, language, cultural context, time, space etc. also have a considerable importance. Jacques consider these facts as an natural part of the process and the performance – and not as a limiting problem.
For the storytelling technique, he work with focus on the body – with the body’s impulses and signals – the impressions and expressions. The Actors should feel and be aware of this instrument – and be able to use it honestly every second moment. This principle or claim is the same for the Actor as the Puppeteer. To do it, even the most well educated Actor have to feel safe. Jacques headlines for the process is therefore; Give time, trust and mental safety. Therefore, in the process - he know the schedule, what should be done and when, know the frustrations and doubts – he is the captain on the ship and all of them will come safe home.
To describe Jacques’ artistically universe and characteristic, you can use words as calm, listening, philanthropic – and at the same time deeply innovative, surprising colorful and brave.
His performances often tell a serious story, sometimes very tragic – but the form and atmosphere is light and filled with music, comical characters, situations and inventions. As his audience, you do not always get a happy end, but you always get hope!
Jacques S. Matthiessen