New UWP theatre faculty member brings 'fresh look'

November 19, 2002

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2002_11_19.jpg UWP theatre faculty member Mike O'Brien

PLATTEVILLE -New University of Wisconsin-Platteville Department of Fine Arts faculty member Mike O'Brien brings his own brand of buoyancy to college theatre.

A native of Collinsville, Mo, O'Brien is directing his first UWP production, "The Good Doctor," opening Nov. 21 at the Center for the Arts Theatre.

A farce based on a collection of Anton Chekhov's short stories, the play is a mix of tender drama and slapstick comedy. "This makes for a really great play," said O'Brien. "It's also exciting to get back into designing scenery and technical work."

O'Brien's impressive array of experience includes a mix of his own -- directing, staging, acting, design, theatre make-up, costume construction and puppetry. He wrote a dissertation on puppetry aesthetics for his doctor of philosophy degree.

His theatrical experience also includes playwriting, including "How to be Postmodern, "How to go on a Date" and "Adolescence," all produced at Bowling Green State University.

At UWP, O'Brien teaches theatre classes and playwriting and is technical director and scenery designer of theatre productions. An accomplished vocalist, he also finds time to give private vocal lessons.

O'Brien and family - wife Jenna and children Maggie, 7, and Gracie, 5 - have adapted well to Platteville and enjoy community involvement.

Jenna serves as musical director at the First English Lutheran Church and Maggie is a second grader at Neal Wilkins Elementary School. Gracie is a preschool student at O.E. Gray Early Learning Center.

UWP Department of Fine Arts Chair Dan Fairchild predicts great things from the theatre program with the addition of O'Brien's expertise and talent.

"Mike brings a wonderfully fresh look to our technical portion of the program," said Fairchild. "His lighting and set design are innovative. He makes efficient use of our time and our students' time."

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