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Meet the Team: An Interview with our Executive Director

Early last week, Someone New released a short video about our Executive Director: given that Victoria is now going back into lock-down due to coronavirus, we can't meet everyone in person for all of the on-stage work we had planned. So, instead, we're doing video and text interviews with our team members, introducing them to the wider world!

(Be gentle, they startle easily)

So, please welcome the head of our little team, co-founder Ryan O'Connor. Acclaimed actor and writer, with several productions under his belt, we're here to find out what Ryan is like as a person, what he does for the company, and what he can tell us about Someone New!

First up:

What do you do in your role of executive director?

Good question! When we started the company - nearly two years ago, now - it was just an idea between a group of actors huddled around a McDonald's share pack. We'd been approached about giving some workshops on theatre skills for young people, and it had been suggested that we start our own theatre company.

Things just started to move from there, really. On their own, sometimes, but generally with a lot of pushing and swearing.

The point that I'm trying to make is that the role of Executive Director was, for a while, just the role we had in place for the person who had the final yea or nay on our projects, ideas, and interactions with others [because there were only three of us]. If we were divided on what to do, or uncertain about which direction to take, it was my job to be decisive - and to take responsibility for the outcome of those decisions.

That much is still the same, though the company has expanded since then. It's come with more responsibilities, now. I deal with the company finances, interactions with other companies, internal disputes, and I oversee and double-check the work that goes through the company. Not that they need it, most of the time. It's just another safety.

And, I have to say, it's a privilege. It's a lot of work, don't get me wrong. But they're a great team, and the casts that we work with on our productions are a pleasure.

You also have had some of your plays put on by the company too, haven't you?

Yes, I have. It started with Between Sleeps, which we made into a radio play with Greater Geelong Creative Inc. - by the way, that was a really wonderful experience, I would recommend looking them up - and then a short play, With a Whimper, for the Someone's Shorts event.

See, Someone New had decided to put on a short play for the Anglesea One-Act Play Festival, nothing too big, just getting our name out there, and we were approached about putting it on stage, on its own, at Platform Arts, in the middle of Geelong. Which was a great opportunity, but it was only a short play, and we couldn't ask people to come all the way out there for 30 minutes of play. So the others asked if I had anything, and I did - about 40 minutes of three characters and a lot of philosophy - and we put it on.

Well, we got some really good feedback about With a Whimper, and the others said, "Hey, Ryan, got a full length play there for us?"

And I said, "Um."

So we decided to put on Fatal Attraction. It's not about the movie. I actually didn't know the movie was a thing until after we'd opened auditions. No one else had thought to bring it up. Of course, Fatal, despite being an absolutely wonderful experience as a director, had to be put on indefinite hold because of, well, all this.

Anyway, that's how I became a playwright. I got Between Sleeps published, which was fun. And I'm looking at doing another, bigger project for next year - just because I can.

What’s another role you would like in the company?

Another role in the company...? Is that an option?

Seriously, though, I would like to get back into acting. I was trained as an actor, and it is my passion. Taking care of the company, trying to get this all to work, as well as living a life and working a job, has meant that I just don't have the time to act that I want. At least, not unless the company needs an actor.

But I've missed out on a lot of opportunities because I've been too busy. I would like to give directing - and possibly writing - a miss for a little while, and just goof around on stage. That's my absolute favourite thing to do.

Where would you like the company to be in 5 years time?

Ideally, we would have a larger team, a huge following, and an ongoing annual cycle - you know the kind: "We're doing two major productions, touring this short comedy, and hosting this event". Something that people can start to put in their own calendars. I mean, we wanted to start that this year, but...

Although, much as I complain about COVID, it really has brought out the best in a lot of people - and it's given us an opportunity that we never saw coming. We've doubled our online following, we're making friends in theatre groups across the country because of the work we're doing, and it's a great creative prompt - "How do we do theatre without actually doing theatre?"

It's the kind of stuff improv groups dream of!

But in five years, I would like for us to be recognised as a place that people can come to to find opportunities. New playwrights can have their work showcased, new actors can have a directing process that coaches them as they rehearse, and production structures designed to allow us to coach people in how to direct, or run lighting and sound, or stage manage, at the same time as they are in a production.

I really just want us to be able to help actors - the way we wanted, needed, help.

Where would you like to be in 5 years time?

You mean, other than on a beach in Polynesia, sipping a pina colada from a coconut and spending my days following turtles around a reef?

Actually, that would be fine for a little while, but I think it'd get boring pretty quickly. Also, I don't like pina coladas. Too sweet. No, I would rather still be in the thick of it, I think. Still creating, still collaborating. I'd like to get more sleep, and be able to spend more time working on the company and less on paying my own bills.

I like to keep the future vague. I like to keep it undefined. I can't think of anything more confining than having a 20-year plan. Business plans are one thing - they're more guidelines than anything. But personally, I would rather just say, "This is the direction I'm going in. Let's see where the wind takes me."

There's a lot more freedom that way.

That's all from Ryan for now but if you have any questions you'd like him to answer feel free to contact us on Facebook, Instagram or via email ( )


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