January 30, 2023

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Deirdre O’Connell’s Tony Award didn’t change her life, and that’s okay

2 min read

After spending the past 30-plus years as an Off-Broadway favorite, actor Deirdre O’Connell (“Becky Nurse of Salem,” “Corsican”) walked away from the 2022 Tony Awards with a trophy for her work in “Dana H.” How did that best actress Tony change his life?

Listen to this week’s “Stagecraft” podcast below:

“It didn’t! Isn’t it strange?” O’Connell said in the latest episode of Stagecraft, of diversity The Theater Podcast. “There are people calling me saying, ‘Will you come and do this? Will you come and do it?’ I’m not feeling that. Maybe it’s just my age, it’s not going to be that magical [change]”

But he’s okay with that. “I’m so happy to be doing it,” she says of her current role in Sarah Ruhl’s new play, “Becky Nurse of Salem.” “I think I landed exactly where I wanted to be.”

On stage, O’Connell has become known for performances that feel effortlessly alive, idealistic and authentic. He’s also done a lot of film and TV work (“Outer Range,” “The Path”), but he talks to Stagecraft about why he calls the theater home.

“I wonder why I’m so drawn to the stage,” he said. “The stage is hard! There are days when I get up and think, ‘Why do I want to do this? I’m so scared!’ I’m not a person who doesn’t have stage fright. I do. … I’m as scared as anybody.”

He continued, “In part [the attraction to the stage] It has to do with the fact that I struggle with being an introvert forcing myself to relate to people, and then looking for a moment when you’re not self-conscious. Searching for a moment when the task is so big, the feeling you’re dealing with is so big, the thing so subtle that you find the moment when you’re not self-conscious. I think that is my struggle and search. And I can hardly feel it in front of the camera.

Also in the new episode of Stagecraft, O’Connell talks about honing his instincts, wearing lots of hoodies, and when he talks in rehearsals — and when he doesn’t.

To hear the full conversation, listen at the link above or download and subscribe to “Stagecraft” on podcast platforms including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and the Broadway Podcast Network. New episodes of “Stagecraft” are released every week.

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