We’re thrilled to introduce the 2013 NIDA recipient of the Big Kahuna Imagineering Scholarship — Hugh O’Connor — who was chosen for displaying considerable novelty in his material science.
Currently in his third and final year of Design at a National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), Hugh is deep into the production of Louis Norwra’s play Cosi, directed by David Berthold — a semi-autobiographical play depicting a young theatre director tackling the monumental task of directing Mozart’s Così fan tutte… with a cast from a mental asylum.
Stage design for the NIDA production of Louis Norwra’s play Cosi, directed by David Berthold.
With themes of love, madness, art and politics, Hugh has created a totally immersive set in which the audiences experiences the play in order to convey those themes in the fullest and most genuine way.
“I believe that the basis of all storytelling is emotional connection, a shared understanding of what it means to feel sadness and joy, fear and awe, pain and ecstasy,” Hugh said. “I don’t believe that any two projects can use the same approach to achieve an empathetic connection.”
Whether it’s a fully immersive set, complete with roof, walls and floor or an empty stage with only a single actor and the imagination of the audience, Hugh’s interest lies in pushing his exploration of these varied techniques and materials to create stories without pretense which convey a small (sometimes large) part of what it means to be human.
Co-Production Design, The Witches directed by Lucas Jerevies
Hugh credits passion for creating work that engages and moves audiences to his years as an actor and director for Lismore-based, youth theatre company Theatre-Theatre between 1998 and 2008.
Today, Hugh’s production credits include…
And, as a “big fan” of both Wilson and Waits, Hugh is also excited about his involvement in the end of year production for the Tom Waits/ Robert Wilson musical adaptation of Woyzeck directed by Imara Savage, which he is co-designing with classmate Elizabeth Gadsby (recipient of the 2012 Big Kahuna Imagineering Scholarship).
Receiving the Big Kahuna Imagineering Scholarship has allowed Hugh to dedicate his full engagement and concentration to his work at NIDA. As the amount of time and energy required for creative projects is immense, and without this scholarship, Hugh’s final year “would have been difficult indeed.”
As Hannah McCann, NIDA Development Officer, said: “The support of bursary provides relief from financial pressures for many NIDA students and allows recipients to concentrate fully on their studies, maximising the opportunities presented to them while they are at NIDA.”
Upon completing his studies at the end of the year Hugh is planning on working in theatre design (both set and costume) and exploring the world of film and television production design. In 2014, he is planning to travel to Berlin to undertake work in the German theatre industry with the aim of securing a position as an intern/assistant with a designer/theatre company.
Certainly a budding creative to watch! Grab your tickets for Cosi showing this June and check out Hugh’s work for yourself!
Here are a few more examples of productions Hugh has worked on…
Stage Design for Act 1 of Die tote Stadt produced by NIDA
Stage Design for Act 2 of Die tote Stadt produced by NIDA