Friday, March 25, 2016

Ensemble Diaries:
TSP Ensemble Member Danny O'Shea

The Seeing Place Theater is thrilled to announce its 2016 Fundraising Initiative. As a part of the initiative we want you to give you a chance to get to know our members, so we gave them a little challenge. To start, the Seeing Place asked each of its members 3 questions which they could answer via text or video:

1) What is your hometown?
2) What is your dream role?
3) When was the last time you contributed to a campaign and how did it make you feel?

We then asked them to craft a little blog post about what brought them to The Seeing Place and why it means so much to them. We hope you enjoy getting to know our ensemble!


I was raised in The Queensbridge Housing Projects (the biggest housing project in the United States) by my Mother who for most of her life suffered from chronic and severe venous leg ulcerations. I never saw my Father (they separated before my birth and divorced when I was two ) but there was much talk of him and none of it good. I was an okay student, an altar boy and like all of my friends loved sports of any kind. As I reached my teens the one thing I was consistent with was getting in trouble and daydreaming.

I was a 17 year old dropout, shooting pool one day at my local community center. The activities coordinator invited me to join her and a group of local seniors to see a show on Broadway. I said sure. I had nothing to do. All my friends were in school. Off I went with some new friends to a matinee performance of DRACULA. This was the first show I ever saw on Broadway- come to think of it, it was the first show I ever saw. I was overcome by the power of the theater.

Danny O'Shea
Not long afterwards I went back to school (sort of) and decided to be an actor. I was fortunate to be able to study with the great Herbert Berghof who taught me that the theater is a sacred place that must always be socially relevant. Dear Herbert - from whom I learned so much - the least of which was acting. In the final analysis, Herbert taught me (eventually) how to be a human being, how to stand on principle and that being smart and gentle is the epitome of cool. He even taught me how to be a better flirt.

I was lucky enough to also study with and audit classes offered by other magnificent teachers like Uta Hagen, Carol Rosenfeld and Earle Hyman among others. One teacher (it was a woman - who exactly I forget) was giving some feedback after a scene I did and she told me, "The energy you're giving this piece is violent and staccato like Stravinsky but it needs a light, flowing legato touch almost like Schubert." I looked at the teacher like a cow that had, just moments before, been prodded by a stun gun. She asked, "Surely you know who Stravinksy and Schubert are ? " "No." I replied. Her response was a pained, "Ohhh..." which in itself was a lesson in subtext. She didn't have to tell me the disgust and disdain she felt for me at that moment- it was expressed loud and clear.

This was just what I needed  I spent hours at The Library For The Performing Arts at Lincoln Center listening to Stravinsky (who I loved) and Schubert (who I liked.) I listened to everything. I went to museums. I read voraciously. An actor (if they want to be any good) spends a great deal of time researching epochs, history, culture, painting, enlarging our psychology and looking at other points of view. I read Hemingway, Fitzgerald, John Donne, Balzac, Salinger- one of my all time favorites Saul Bellow.

Danny on the set of "Boardwalk Empire"
Here I was, a young man that HATED school work and was forever in trouble. Now I had no time to get in trouble I was too busy. Plus I had other people who were now counting on me (directors, cast mates, scene partners) who I couldn't let down. And now, my wife is a lover of the arts and that's one of the things that binds us so closely together.

Many of my childhood friends did well but so many fell victim to crime and ensuing incarceration, alcoholism, drug addiction and oftentimes death. I was following that path of self destruction but the theater saved my life.

Theater is a life affirming, life saving art form. As an actor and an audience member I am constantly required to employ empathy and to listen and weigh out other people's points of view. This in turn increases a person's capacity to feel and also enlarges ones imagination. Theater takes on the challenge of giving meaning and context to our lives, to our values and morals (or lack thereof) through narrative and metaphor. Theater "holds the mirror up to nature" so we might see our lives objectively for the purpose of examination, enlightenment and let's not forget entertainment. Theater is one of the last art forms to not be totally consumed and taken over by technology. And at The Seeing Place Theater we pride ourselves in telling stories in an organic, simple and compelling way.

Learn more about Danny at


To help create new work with Danny and The Seeing Place by contributing to our campaign, visit


  1. Love this. Picks up on the very things I wrote for Erin when she asked--sacred, life changing, life SAVING, perfect. I really look forward to meeting you the next time I'm in NYC at The Seeing Place.


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