If you haven't been paying attention, there are some really exciting things going on in Dallas! While I have had my head buried in the educational field this year, other folks have been working on bringing to Dallas some of the best solo performers in the country for ten days in May. Jeff Hernandez sat down with one of these performers and here is what transpired...
Danny O’Connor brings his show Bouncing Ugly to the Dallas Solo Fest.
By Jeff Hernandez
Danny O'Connor is a big guy. He has a wide smile, nimble voice and an easy laugh. He is also hilarious. He will be performing his original solo comedy Bouncing Ugly at the Dallas Solo Fest at the Margo Jones Theatre in Fair Park May 15-18, 2014. The festival runs May 15-25, 2014.
O’Connor grew up in the Dallas suburb of Carrollton, Texas, attending Newman Smith High School. Like so many high school students, he did his very best to hide away from everyone. It wasn't until he went on to study acting at Emerson College in Boston that he began to come out of his shell.
After stints in Chicago and New York City, where he worked professionally on both solo shows and traditional full cast plays, he came back to Dallas in late 2010 to be with family.
O’Connor co-founded a theatre company, Octaviar Productions. Octaviar produced his long running show, ZERO, which has performed in multiple cities around the united States to some impressive critical acclaim. TheaterJones, a north Texas based performing arts website called Bouncing Ugly “ seriously one of the funniest hours of storytelling ever. No Kidding."
Both Bouncing Ugly and ZERO pulled from O'Connor's personal experience. Though Bouncing Ugly is much more O’Connor talking about his life, both shows have central themes of not giving up on whatever it is you're trying to do with your life.
ZERO was written when O’Connor saw himself and his friends all struggling with whether to stop trying to “make it” and “just take the easy route of getting drunk and trying to hook up.”
“It turns out a lot of people saw themselves in the characters of that show,” says O’Connor. “It seems it's not a problem only I have had to deal with.”
O’Connor feels that Bouncing Ugly could “in some ways be seen as the next progression after ZERO's themes.”
“Now that you've committed to following your dreams, how much crap (both metaphorical and literal) are you willing to deal with and what are you willing to sacrifice to stay true to yourself and your goals?” says O’Connor, “ Of course, the show's not that lofty, as it's mostly just ridiculous stories about the people he met working as a bouncer at Coyote Ugly in New York City, and the God awful things they did to themselves, the floors, the toilets, the people sitting next to them, etc etc-drunk-people-are-terrible-sometimes etc...”
O’Connor is quick to point out, as an actor, he doesn't necessarily prefer solo shows to full cast productions, but adds “there is something unique about just how personal a solo show can be, and it can touch upon an audience's emotions and their own individual relationship with themselves in a way that nothing else artistic can.”
“Granted, it has to be done well, which is very tricky, because besides badly done Shakespeare nothing is worse than a bad solo show,” says O’Connor.
Bouncing Ugly plays as part of the Dallas Solo Fest, May 15-18, 2014. At the Margo Jones Theatre at the Magnolia Lounge in Fair Park, 1121 First Avenue, Dallas TX 75210. Tickets and info available at: www.DallasSoloFest.com.
Jeff Hernandez is the founder of Sensational Adventure Club, a platform for comics, music criticism and "internet awesomeness." He is also the co-creator/co-host of the podcast Bike Soccer Jamboree. He writes about things that interest him, which mostly involve movies, theatre and internet phenoms. He is currently co-writing a play called Night of the Tarantu-Bears for Audacity Theatre Lab.