Columbia has a sneaky-good arts scene and many people are only beginning to realize that. – Patrick Kelly
As curtain time for SYZYGY: The Plays approaches, The Jasper Project would like to shine some light on the person responsible for making this all come together – Patrick Kelly, who has served as Project Director over the past several months, overseeing selecting directors, planning all the details of sound and lighting and rehearsal and staging, and answering to almost three dozen theatre artists embarking on a brand new arts adventure.
We are incredibly indebted to Patrick for lending us his expertise and thought you might like to know a bit more about the guy who is bringing it all together.
Jasper: Tell us briefly about how you got from Columbia to Chicago to NYC, and back to Columbia.
Patrick: After I finished undergrad at USC, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in theatre. I had several friends living in Chicago and knew the city had a large, proud theatre community. I took a quick trip there to check it out and loved it - it seemed much more accessible and welcoming than New York, and the Chicago theatre scene is focused on the ensemble - groups of like-minded people working together towards a shared vision. I spent four years acting, directing, interning, and training, and I’d recommend Chicago to anyone looking to immerse themselves in making theatre. While I was there, I was wanting to take the next step - to get a Master’s degree and the training I needed to make the most of a career in theatre - so I began applying to graduate schools. After a few years of trying, I was accepted into the NYU Graduate Acting Program. After school, I booked some regional work and struggled in the acting biz, but I continued to work on projects with my classmates, teachers, and friends. I always knew that I wanted to return to the southeast at some point and make theatre in places that didn’t have access to the arts in the way people in big cities do. I was looking for a way into teaching and an opportunity to teach at the college level in Columbia came up. I needed the experience, so I looked at the life I had in the city and thought about the life I knew I wanted. I thought, “Why wait?” and jumped on the job.
Jasper: And what exactly are you doing now?
Patrick: I taught Theatre Appreciation for the last year and immersed myself in the theatre scene here in Columbia. I was invited to rejoin the company at Trustus Theatre and now I’m on staff at the theatre, serving as Production Manager. I’m also the General Manager of Lula Drake Wine Parlour.
Jasper: What shows have you been involved in since coming back to Columbia -- and what is on the horizon?
Patrick: I’ve appeared as an actor in last year’s Trustus Playwrights’ Festival winner Anatomy of a Hug and in this year’s production of Some Girl(s) at Workshop Theatre, and I directed this year’s production of Hand to God at Trustus. Up next, I’m directing next summer’s production of Boy About Ten at Trustus and I’ll continue writing for and performing with the Mothers - Trustus’s resident sketch and improv comedy troupe.
Jasper: What prompted you to take the position of Project Director for the Jasper Project's SYZYGY project?
Patrick: I’m passionate about new work for the stage, and about celebrating local artists and performers. Since this project features both, it was a no-brainer for me. I’m thrilled to facilitate the premiere of these plays and for so many local theatre artists to be seen.
Jasper: What have been your biggest challenges?
Patrick: Fitting the right people to the right project. Meeting the needs of 24 different people. Scheduling and running tech rehearsals for six projects in one day.
Jasper: Biggest rewards?
Patrick: Watching the birth of six brand-new works for the stage. Getting to employ so many artists at once.
Jasper: What do you think the audiences are going to be most surprised by when they see these plays?
Patrick: I think audiences will be most surprised with the diversity of voices represented not only in the writing but also on the stage performing it. Columbia has a sneaky-good arts scene and many people are only beginning to realize that.
Jasper: Why should people show up?
Patrick: It’s not every day you get to see six brand-new plays in one sitting.
Jasper: What else would you like to add?
Patrick: This is the beginning. Theatres are producing more and more new work and Columbia is catching the wave. Trustus Theatre will have three new works in this season alone. Expect to see more productions of new plays by local and regional playwrights. People want to see their stories and their issues reflected in their art and entertainment. Art makers are listening.
SYZYGY: The Plays
Thursday, August 17th at 7 and 10 pm
Tapp's Arts Center
For tickets to SYZYGY: The Plays visit https://www.tappsartscenter.com/event/syzygy-the-solar-eclipse-plays/
Patrick Michael Kelly is a theatre artist and educator. Patrick holds a BA in Theatre from the University of South Carolina and an MFA in Acting from the Graduate Acting Program at NYU/Tisch School of the Arts. He also trained at the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities, The Second City, Victory Gardens Theatre, and Trustus Theatre. Patrick has performed and directed at theaters in New York, Chicago, and along the East Coast including La MaMa E.T.C., Virginia Stage Company, WNEP Theater, Arundel Barn Playhouse, Workshop Theatre of South Carolina, and Trustus Theatre. Patrick is a proud member of Actors' Equity and a company member at Trustus Theatre, where he also serves on staff as Production Manager.