Cast & Crew Q & A With Michael O’Connell

Photo cred. Owen Carey
Photo cred. Owen Carey


A tour de force in the Portland theater scene for decade, Mike is a founding member of Third Rail Repertory and a veteran of stages in Kansas City, New York,  and San Francisco.  With an MFA from the University of Missouri, Mike is a certified Fitzmaurice Voicework Associate teacher and teaches at Portland State University.  He shared some thoughts with us inspired by his work on The Few, in which he joins the cast playing the part of Bryan:

What’s it like working on a play set in the past, but in the recent, memorable past, as opposed to something in the 19th century, for example?

Whatever time the play is in, it’s important to steep yourself in the research and blend it with your imagination to find the “now” of it. The unfortunate side effect of having lived through the “period”  is that memories are often less exciting than what I’m capable of dreaming up. Sometimes facts get in the way of a good story.

It also makes you feel old, and you start to say things that start with: “I remember a time…”, as if that’s of interest.

Is it important to produce work in the Pacific Northwest that comes out of the Pacific Northwest?

I don’t know, sometimes you want to be transported to somewhere (anywhere) else and learn about that place, sometimes it’s nice to see where you live through a different lens. Sam grew up in Idaho then went to school in New York then Iowa and back to New York at Julliard. I doubt we would be seeing his plays if he wasn’t writing out of New York. This is the bigger question. How do we develop our playwrights?

What drew you to this story?

I was born in Idaho, all my family is from there. My parents met in the town where Sam D. Hunter grew up. My character takes me back to my summers spent with my weird uncles. Thrown in the back of a pick up with my brother to go fishing out in the desert, stopping if there was something to shoot. Being on the road forever. Sam’s dialogue captures a specific Idahoan rhythm. There’s a real frankness there, that creates silences. The sarcasm is drier than Portland and cuts deeper.

What are your memories of Y2K?

Beyond fuzzy.

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