Sunday, July 20, 2014

Meet the cast and crew of Seminar: Paul O'Connell

Paul O'Connell is Theatre9/12's Producing Director and he served as Director for Seminar.
Directing a bunch of actors to not only convincingly play writers but to create this life in the harshly intimate realities of a very small theatre completely surrounded by audience certainly proved a challenge and Paul, through patience, guidance and an actor meltdown or two, met that challenge with a lot of humor and just a little bit of good old fashioned snark.

We put Paul through the "yes, you MUST participate in the questionnaire - I know you're the boss and please don't fire me" ringer and his answers certainly explained his reticence at answering the questions in the first place.

Have you ever written anything that you had published/presented? What was it? How was that experience for you?

I had a poem published by the National Poetry Society about 20 years ago.  Felt reaffirming and prompted me to keep writing.   Became more of a recreational endeavor than a professional pursuit.  Still love to write for my own enjoyment and creative expression.

Who were/are your favorite writers? Why?

Many writers interest me, both fiction and non-fiction.  Great stories from the Nineteenth Century Russian greats,  great mysteries from many, many writers, great poetry from Shakespeare and Emily Dickinson among many others, great children's fabulists, playwrights from all ages, philosophers and scientists who expose the mind's discoveries in a way that makes sense to my curious mind.  The one thing common to all of them is their ability to engage my imagination and bring insight to my understanding. 

If you could have any career, what would it be?

I've always had the career I wanted.  Life to me is a big adventure from beginning to end.  Wherever I am, whatever I am doing is where I am supposed to be at the time.  I find my universe to be a friendly environment if I stay open to its possibilities offered.
I have had many changes in direction on my path through life, some self chosen, others thrust upon me; but I always landed on my feet and pursued what I wanted at the time.

Dream project?

My dream project would be to write and direct a major film exploring multiple points of view and the differences of people from around the world.  Told through the young eyes of a child who doesn't understand why people don't get along. The film finds its resolution in honest non-judgmental communication and mutual respect, awaiting visitors from another world.  After all, we earthlings all put on our pants one leg at a time.  We just wear different pants.  ET beings may not even have legs.

Tell me one thing about you that people would find surprising.

Most people might be surprised to know that I began my career paths, of which there have been a few, first as a Benedictine Monk for six years an "ice age ago"; and that despite my curmudgeon appearance, I'm a nice guy who is attracted to interesting people who are honest, forthright, caring of others and have a sense of humor.  Life is too short to spend much time with people who for the most part only talk about themselves, their work, or worse yet other people. 
Conversation for me is like human "preening" similar to our monkey ancestors' behavior.  Only we are not cleaning one another’s fur, but engaging in familial give and take with other humans.
Our new form of so called technologically advanced communication like Facebook, tweets, blogs, email; all full of personal announcements, takes up far too much time and has little substantive result.  It's not very personal, nor similar in any way to "preening," it's more like cyber bulletin boards. 
Necessary to be sure, but hardly communication and not very interesting.

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