Alumni Interview with Juan José Briseno

After his studies in Bühnenbild_Szenischer Raum, which he completed in 2014, Juan José Briseno – back again in his home country Mexico – realized numerous projects in the field of theater. In addition to his artistic practice, he is active in teaching in the field of theater studies. 

You studied theater studies and later in the masters Bühnenbild_Szenischer Raum. Today you work in both fields in parallel. When you began your studies in the master’s program, did you already have your current job description in mind?
That’s right, since my return I have worked in both fields in my home country Mexico City as a professor at the Tecnológico de Monterrey CSF and at the same time as a director and set designer in theater, opera and film. I didn’t have my current job description so clearly in mind, although from the beginning I had a kind of unconscious inkling to work like that one day. At that time, I had a great fascination for Germany’s theater tradition and was eager to get to know new world views.

Was it your plan from the beginning to return to your homeland?
No, I didn’t really have any plans for the future. I only had my studies in mind and was curious to gain new experiences.

What did you focus on in your studies?
Definitely the focus on stage! My interest has always been in the stage and its dramaturgy. As a theater director, I was already at home there in a way. But I felt it was essential to get to know the stage or the theater space from different sides and to open up new possibilities and perspectives for myself and to develop myself further.

What did it mean for you to study in a cultural metropolis like Berlin?
Studying in Berlin is the dream of many theater makers from Latin America. Personally, I was particularly interested in the different worldview of this city. Not only contemporary Berlin, but also its difficult face during the 20th century. The wounds of the city were always and everywhere noticeable. For new inspiration, you just had to go to the streets and listen to what the buildings, houses, gardens, stores, neighborhoods, people wanted to share with you. This helped me a lot for my work in my studies. New York, London, Rome, Barcelona and Berlin are cities that have a cultural vibe from the inside out and that have shaped me a lot.

What advice would you give to a first-year student of the Master of Stage Design/Scenic Space?
Everyone brings their own attitude, time and purpose. When I find a new unknown adventure, I say: Why not? It will be fun. And off we go! My advice: Listen! Take a look! Practice already!

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