Articles about Michael O’Connell


A Day in the Life of a Mentee: Weekend Intesives

A few weekends ago the Mentees at Third Rail gathered in the basement of Imago Theatre to begin a weekend-long intensive exploring vocal techniques for actors. Led by certified Fitzmaurice instructor and Company Member Michael O’Connell, the group would spend the next few days loosening, relaxing and letting go of unnecessary tension in order to “free” the voice.

“All recent voice pedagogies aim to free the actor to connect to their impulses, reduce tension, and allow the body and mind to work together rather than in opposition,” explains O’Connell. “What separates Fitzmaurice from the others is the use of the Destructuring sequence to bypass the Central Nervous System and reintegrate the breath to the Autonomic Nervous System.”

Madeline Shier, a Mentee, shared her expectations of the intensive before it began: “Working with Third Rail on other workshops, I’ve come to realize how entwined the body and the voice are, and how my struggles with both stem from the same root causes. I’m excited to approach that from a perspective of voice, and hopefully learn some exercises…to help me with my breathing and alignment.”

At 6pm on a Friday evening, the Mentees gathered in Imago’s basement, amongst yoga mats, cushions and zafus, to start the intensive. Michael warmed up the chilly evening by asking the group to practice some “Fake Tai Chi” with him. Laughter trickled through the group as Michael facetiously described his time in China with a Fake Tai Chi Master. Warmed up and smiling, the Mentees then got down to business.

Over the course of Friday evening and most of Saturday, the Mentees explored Fitzmaurice’s “Destructuring Sequence.” Destructuring involves “a series of poses or movements that may induce a tremor, which, if invited, can interrupt chronic breathing patterns that hold the actor back from exciting vocal possibilities.” In the midst of doing this work, Shier described how she was “pleasantly surprised by how much [she] liked this work! Voice work [had] been frustrating for [her] in the past, but [she was] really enjoying the challenge this weekend.” Before the weekend, the mentees had each prepared a monologue from a Greek play. They explored their text using the Destructuring positions, discovering the ways in which releasing breath could help to find a vibrant truth in their speeches.

By Sunday, the group was ready to present their monologues as works-in-progress, using their favorite Destructuring positions to dive into the text. The Company and Third Rail Members alike were invited to a rare glimpse into an actors’ behind-the-scenes process. By the end, several mentees expressed how much this work had affected them not only as an actor, but in other parts of their lives as well. “The practice of putting our vulnerability to work,” offered Lisa Guerricabeitia, “is one that has endless application both personally and in performance. The technique provided clear and repeatable efforts to deepen self-awareness and marry the impulse of the body to the release of sound. It was a welcome opportunity to get out of my own way.”

Tune in for our next sneak peek into “A Day In The Life Of A Mentee”, when we’ll explore the before, during and after of a Scene Study session with Company Members Rebecca Lingafelter and Michael O’Connell.


This week at Third Rail

October 26 – November 1, 2015

Do you want to know what Third Rail has up our sleeves for the coming week? Then you have come to the right place. It’s time for: This Week at Third Rail!

The Realistic Joneses is up and running and we have a hit on our hands. Audiences are loving it and leaving the theatre with tears in their eyes. Our guess is mostly tears of laughter, but there really isn’t anything like spending an evening with Will Eno’s words – especially words brought to life by Kerry Ryan, Dana Green, Michael O’Connell, and Darius Pierce. You have three weeks left to see the show. Tickets are available for purchase, or you could become a Member and see the show as many times as you’d like!

That would be enough for one week, but there’s more! This week, PETE: All Well opens! When was the last time you were truly in the dark? What creatures lurk? All Well is a sound-installation that will envelop audiences in the pitch black of an icebound ship, midwinter. All Well will travel through the hidden spaces of the Imago Theatre, on a journey inspired by the doomed Franklin Expedition of 1845-48. All from the comfort of a hammock. Space is quite limited, so get tickets early to this; or if you are a Member, call ahead to reserve your seat! Or make a night of it – see The Realistic Joneses and stay for All Well!

And that concludes This Week in Third Rail! To find out about next week, keep your eyes on this space!


October 2015

October is shaping up to be an exciting month at Third Rail. Honestly, all of the months are exciting here but we really do believe October is going to be particularly special (and you can tell July we said that!). Why will October be so notable?

Or,

Closes October 10

So, we start the month with the last two weekends of this wonderful production. If you have not yet seen it, you are missing a truly excellent play about one of the first female playwrights, written by one of the great modern female playwrights, and starring two of Portland’s greatest female actors. It’s not too late to start your Third Rail October with us by seeing Or,!

The Realistic Joneses

Opens October 23

Not two weeks later, we open our next show, The Realistic Joneses by Will Eno – who wrote last year’s hit, Middletown. Directed by Company Member Rebecca Lingafelter and starring Company Members Michael O’Connell, Kerry Ryan, and Darius Pierce, along with guest artist Dana Green, who you may remember from her Drammy-nominated work in Gidion’s Knot. This is an hilarious and deeply human play that will gracefully and humorously grab the baton from Or,.

PETE: All Well

October 27 – November 1

Following the success of The Bylines: Meant to Be, October also bring us our second Wild Card! PETE: All Well looks to be a unique immersive experience: a sound-installation which will envelop audiences in the pitch black world of an icebound ship. Featuring a soundscape by PETE’s resident sound designer and Third Rail Company Member Mark Valadez, each performance will be limited to 25 audience members who will experience the piece from the comfort of their own hammock. With only 25 hammocks available each show, you’ll want to make sure you reserve your tickets as soon as possible.

Hamlet

October 18th

October also sees the beginning of perhaps our most anticipated NT Live screening ever – Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Our Hamlet engagement began with four scheduled screenings which sold out so quickly that we have already added four additional showings. Get tickets while you can, they certainly won’t be around much longer.

Bloody Sunday Reading (MEMBER ONLY EVENT)

October 25

As is true every month, we’ll also have a Bloody Sunday reading of a show we are considering for future production. Bloody Sunday readings are Members Only events and a unique way to peek inside the Third Rail process. In fact, October is going to be one of the best possible months to become a member – for under $30, you would have unlimited access to two Main Stage productions, a Wild Card production, and NT Live’s Hamlet – over $130 in programming! So the only question left is…

What are you waiting for?!?


The Realistic Joneses Cast and Creative Team

While Or, continues to delight audiences currently, our next show is Will Eno’s The Realistic Joneses. But who, you ask, will be working on that show? Who are the artists bringing this profound and hilarious show to life? Whose work will I be seeing when I get to the theatre? Well…you have a lot of questions, but we do know the answers. And here they are:

Director:
The show is being helmed by Company Member Rebecca Lingafelter! A talented and distinguished actor, director, and producer, Rebecca is an invaluable Company Member of Third Rail, as well as a founding member of the Portland Ensemble Theater Ensemble (PETE). So, in addition to seeing her directorial work in The Realistic Joneses, you will also see her when you attend PETE’s Wild Card production of All Well.

Designers:
Our Sound Designer will be Company Member Mark Valadez! We are always delighted when we hear Mark’s thoughtful work during our productions. He is also the resident sound designer for PETE. So, his work will be heavily featured in All Well. Joining Mark at the design table is PETE’s resident costume designer, Jenny Ampersand. We’re thrilled that Jenny’s work will grace our stage for The Realistic Joneses, her first Third Rail design. Look for more information about our design time here as the rehearsal process continues…

The Cast:

  • Michael O’Connell (John) has appeared in over a dozen Third Rail productions, including Drammy-winning performances in The Lying Kind and Recent Tragic Events. He also starred in last season’s production of Will Eno’s Middletown. A Third Rail Company Member from the beginning, we are always eager to see him on our stage.
  • Kerry Ryan (Jennifer) became a Third Rail Company Member in 2013, and performed with us in A Bright New Boise. She has spent the last ten years holding membership with Imago Theatre, Theatre Vertigo, and the Anonymous Theatre Company. Now, she is bringing her unique and wonderful talent to our stage for the second time!
  • Darius Pierce (Bob) is a recent Company Member, having joined early in 2015. He is a co-founder of the Anonymous Theatre Company and was previously a longtime member of Theatre Vertigo. Now, he’ll be speaking Will Eno’s exceptional words again after joining the cast of last year’s Middletown.
  • Dana Green (Pony) has a resume far longer than we have room for here. In Portland, she’s performed at Portland Center Stage in Othello and A Midsummer Night’s Dream; at Profile Theatre in Dead Man’s Cell Phone; and here at Third Rail in Gidion’s Knot. We could not be happier to have her back on the boards with us.

All four cast members and the director of The Realistic Joneses are past Drammy recipients. Not too shabby…

These extraordinary artists are hard at work on this extraordinary script. In just a few short weeks, you – our extraordinary patrons and supporters – will be in for (you guessed it) an extraordinary night of theatre.


The Realistic Joneses First Read

As Or, prepares to open this Friday, our Members joined us for our first read of The Realistic Joneses. This was the second opportunity for Third Rail Members to be a part of the production experience from the very beginning.

We were introduced to the project by Third Rail Artistic Director, Scott Yarbrough, who explained how we’ve come to produce our second play by the brilliant Middletown playwright, Will Eno. Yarbrough will be involved in this production as a kind of Tom Hagen figure (consigliere) to the Don (director) a la The Godfather – his words (more or less). The Don, in this case, is Third Rail Company Member Rebecca Lingafelter. While Lingafelter has been seen several times on the Third Rail stage, this marks her first time as a Third Rail director.

The night progressed with beautiful and evocative design presentations from the creative team. It is a rare privilege to witness these creative minds transform words on a page to a vivid physical universe. Finally, we were treated to a reading of the play by the cast: Michael O’Connell, Dana Green, Darius Pierce, and Kerry Ryan. It is at once a touching, hilarious and deeply human play sure to be a must see this Fall. Watch this space to follow this production’s development over the next month, and be sure to book your tickets! Performances begin October 23rd and run through November 14th.


Don’t Miss the Mentorship Company’s Presentation

At 11:00 am on the morning of Monday, September 6th, Third Rail Company Members and any Members who wish to attend will be treated to a brand new theatrical presentation created in 36 hours by our new Mentorship Company. They will have been working hard (and sleeping little) to bring us this fully produced performance in answer to a question posed by their mentors Michael O’Connell, Rebecca Lingafelter, and Kristeen Willis Crosser.

These actors, directors, and designers will be a presence with Third Rail for the next year and this performance will be a beautiful way to meet them and let them meet you! These Mentees have come from all over the country and, in past years, many Mentees have decided to stay in Portland and have become valuable, active members of our community.

Please come show your support for these emerging artists and be able to gloat about how you knew them when! But remember – this event is for Members only! So, first, become a Member and then spend the first of many mornings at your new, dynamic artistic home!


Introducing The Mentorship Company

Labor day weekend. Many people are taking last camping trips for the season. Many people are having barbecues and drinking Mai Tais. Many people are shopping at Back-to-School sales. But not our Mentorship Company! They will be spending their weekend working hard together as they start their year with us.

On Friday evening, they will join Company Members Michael O’Connell, Rebecca Lingafelter, and Kristeen Crosser. After some introductory exercises, the three Company Members will give the Mentees their project for the weekend. They will have 36 hours to create a complete, fully produced performance with a beginning, a middle and an end. In this performance, they introduce themselves and answer a question posed by their Mentors. Then, at 11 am on Sunday morning September 6, the Mentees will perform their work for the Company and for any Members who join us!

In the past, we have been blown away by the outcome of their projects and we have been inspired by their work. This group of Mentees is a wonderful collection of artists, so we expect we will once again be sincerely impressed! Expect surprises and high voltage energy from this talented group of theatre makers.

This event is for Member only! Not a Member? Join here.




What’s Coming Up at Third Rail Rep

The night is alive…with pirates!
The Night Alive

The third show of our 9th Season is Conor McPherson’s moving, humorous, deeply introspective glance at how we define our place in the twisted mess that is life, The Night Alive.  Opening February 20th and starring company members (and Portland theatre stalwarts) Damon Kupper, Mike O’Connell, and Rolland Walsh, this beautiful, stirring play about compassion, love and who we choose to share our lives with, is sure to please. Get your tickets now before they’re gone!

NT Live Treasure Island

Our next National Theatre Live production, Treasure Island, also appears on the horizon…land ho! Get your tickets for our March 14th showings of this family-friendly production spectacular at the World Trade Center Theatre by clicking here!