I first met Maureen O'Leary while having auditions for an annual community theatre production at the Indianapolis Senior Center. I had received a call a few days prior asking the age requirements for the auditions and had discussed at length (with what turned out to be Ann, Maureen's mother) her desire to audition for the show. We also discussed that she was only 15. Of course I was dubious at the idea of finding a role in HARVEY for a 15 year old, but I always believe auditioning is good exercise and I shared this with Ann. Little did I know that it would begin a mutual journey spanning Maureen's entire high school career and that she and her family would end up being a vital part of how Q Artistry was to evolve and flourish.
Maureen has many talents. She is a gifted violinist and was featured in the orchestra for Cabaret Poe for two years. She is an excellent performer, showing versatility and adaptability in a myriad of show requirements ranging from dancing and singing (Perry Haughter and the Magikal Musical, STRIKE!) to rapping and improvising (The Chronicles of YARNA, Murder On the Radio). But, above all she has a very profound and natural gift for acting. She was remarkable in her audition that day at the Senior Center and she has continued to grow and learn in so many ways.
And just when you thought she had more than her fair share of gifts... she wrote a play. It was quite a surprise when she shared with me that she would be submitting a play to the 2012 Teen Playwrights Festival at the Q, but I can honestly say that I was NOT surprised when it was good. Not just good... but thought provoking, interesting and character driven. I can only pretend to imagine that Maureen's immense acting talent played a part in penning such a piece as GOD AND THE MACHINE. But, if this short one act in a testament to what the future holds, I have no doubt that we'll be seeing much more of Ms. O'Leary... both on stage and on the page.
— Ben Asaykwee
1. It's not an every day occurence that one finds themselves writing/directing a play... what is your reason(s) for doing so now?
God and the Machine was my first real attempt at playwriting. I was always limited to prose before, but I never connected by love for acting and theater with my love of writing. Finally, something clicked and I have been writing ever since.
2. What was your primary reason for writing/directing this
piece in particular?
I think that at the time I was really into small group dynamics in extraordinary situations. When we put people into places of greatest stress, we put human potential to the test. So I wanted a scenario that would be a perfect vacuum for group dynamics to occur. Then the story just kind of wrote itself.
3. What's your FAVORITE PLAY EVER!?!?!?! Or at least one you really, REALLY like? Or at least one you've seen recently that you've liked? Or at least one you've seen recently? Or at least one you've seen...ever? ...Read? ...Heard about? (I'm only really looking for one answer.. I just wanted to make sure to cover all the bases)
I was really enamored with the idea of Absurdist Theater – and
like most people, the play that introduced me to it was Waiting
for Godot. Then I kept reading – I love the beauty and dark humor
of Absurdism, and so I really tried to incorporate it into my
4. What is your favorite personal aspect of the
I love the first time you get to share your work with a reader. Its nerve wracking, but it allows you to take a step outside of yourself in a very real way.
5. If there was a play about tiny little penguin (not just tiny as in small, but tiny as in the size of peanut... because he was shrunk by something scientific or a warlock or something, that's not important).. a tiny little penguin that can't find his way back to his little igloo (made of used ice-cubes from a fountain drink, probably diet coke if I were to direct)... if a play like this existed, what would you name it?
6. If your play was made into a film, who would you like to see in one of the roles (we're talking movie stars here)?
Can you imagine Samuel L. Jackson in a penguin suit? I can
7. Who would you like to starring in the penguin play?
A legitimate penguin. It’s a silent film.
8. Are the characters in this piece based on anything/anyone in particular? If so, can you elaborate? (if not, it's cool)
I think they’re all somehow a part of different people I know, but it’s hard to pin point.
9. If (or when) your play was to be produced on Broadway and they gave you a dressing room to hang out in during production and they said you could have any ONE thing you desired in that room... but couldn't take it out of the room... what would it be?
I’m really into cheddar jalapeno popcorn right now, so probably that. Lots and lots of that.