Saturday, February 25, 2012

FRIGID Festival Interview - Siobhan O'Loughlin of "The Rope in Your Hands"

By Byrne Harrison
Photo by Lauren Taylor

Siobhan O'Loughlin is an artist and activist who loves vegan cooking, bike riding and sweaty yoga studios. She holds a BA in Acting from Towson University in Baltimore, MD, and studied devised theatre and contact improvisation at Dartington College of Arts in Devon, England. Siobhan has trained in theatre of the oppressed with Julian Boal, and spent a summer in puppetry with Peter Schumann at Bread and Puppet Theatre. In New York City, Siobhan most recently appeared as a writer in performance at The Tribeca Performing Arts Center in December, where her new (autobiographical!) solo project began its development. "The Rope in Your Hands" returns a second time after its NYC debut at Stage Left Studio, and continues to have performances at arts camps and universities. She lives in Brooklyn, where she is an "ooh la la" babysitter, teaching artist, and sometime musician. Siobhan encourages you to join her and thousands of others as active participants in the Occupy Wall Street movement, or at the very least check out her website for updates on her new show, upcoming performances, photos and more at

Show: "The Rope in Your Hands"

How did you first get involved in theatre?

I started out as a musician. My parents forced me to take piano lessons, I hated it and was pretty awful at it — until I discovered musical theatre and starting playing songs from shows. The first song I learned that I really cared about was “The Music of the Night” from “The Phantom of the Opera.” I used to play and sing it over and over again — I was 12 years old when I decided it would be more fun to play The Phantom; it was the first time I imagined myself performing as a man—and now here I am! Most of the characters in my show are males.

Who are your biggest influences?

Great question! Anna Deveare Smith was a great inspiration for creating docudrama. There are so many solo performers who mean a lot to me and that I aspire to — Tom Bodett, Deb Margolin, Tim Miller, Al Letson. In general, the artwork of Frida Kahlo and the music of Andrew Bird have served as assistants to my creative spirit. Augusto Boal made a huge impact on me in terms of his theories of theatre, and the writing of journalist Chris Rose directly impacted the formation of “The Rope in Your Hands.”

Tell me a little bit about your show.

It’s a solo show about post-Katrina New Orleans, where I play thirteen different people that I interviewed during my time in the city. In my show, you will meet a street performer, a hip young vagabond, a Japanese jazz musician, an English construction worker, a hot dog vendor, a homeless man, a university administrator, and a 7-year-old girl, to name a few. I encourage you to come talk with “us;” my characters’ stories are all 100% raw and true, verbatim as they were told to me.

What inspired you to write it?

I was in college, actually, and was headed to New Orleans as part of an Alternative Spring Break. My professor at the time, Stephen Nunns, encouraged me to interview as many people as I could. I told him I was too shy, but he double dog dared me… and so there I was, with a tape recorder, collecting material that would inspire me to travel back to New Orleans and collect more. It really proves what a difference a teacher can make in your life, and how far a little bit of encouragement can take you.

Who are your collaborators and how long have you been working with them?

I met my director, Daneille Skrastaad, maybe a month and half ago when I asked her to help me with this specific performance of the show. It had been awhile since I’d had a director, and I wanted a fresh eye. She is incredible and marvelous and it’s been a joy to have her, even if ever so briefly.

What's next for you after FRIGID?

Another great question. Um… a nap? I’m currently responding to this interview from Bogota, Colombia, where I have been teaching a theatre class for 3rd graders. Everything has been wild leading up to the festival, so afterwards, I think I plan on going home for St. Patrick’s Day (because that’s what someone named Siobhan O’Loughlin would do) and then when I return, I’ll probably focus more on Occupy Wall Street until I stumble upon my next theatre gig.

And finally, if you could say anything to your potential audience, what would it be?

To consider each other, and your community, and the people you share the world with, with everything you do. “Think of what a world this would be if men were wise and kind.”—Kurt Vonnegut.

"The Rope in Your Hands"
Written by Siobhan O'Loughlin
Directed by: Danielle Skraastad

The Red Room
85 E. 4th Street

Feb 25, 8:00PM
Feb 29, 8:00PM
Mar 03, 11:00PM
Mar 04, 6:30PM

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