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'The Dork Knight' rises in new one-man show
For actor Jason O'Connell, being a Batman fan is more than just a passion inspired by Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy – it's the story of his life. O'Connell, a member of the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, is trading the Bard for Batman with his one-man show “The Dork Knight,” premiering Thursday at the Philipstown Depot Theatre.
O’Connell was inspired to bring his fandom to the stage after seeing Charles Ross' “One-Man Star Wars Trilogy” a few years ago. He realized that he wanted to do something similar, but with an added personal element and interaction with his audience. In May, he performed the play for the first time at the One-Man Talking Festival at the Emerging Artists Theatre in New York City, finally sharing with the world, as he put it, “Hi, I’m a freak and this is what I was obsessed with as a kid and it was a big part of my life and here’s why.”
In his one-man show, O’Connell will play characters from different Batman films who speak with his younger and current-day self (he will portray both sides of the conversations). Since the play touches on his adolescence, family and relationships, he admitted that he was nervous about sharing his personal life on stage.
“It’s hard to expose yourself like that,” O’Connell said. “It’s nerve-racking.”
O’Connell did not shy away from addressing the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shootings because the tragedy is now inextricably linked to the film “The Dark Knight Rises.”
“I didn’t want to go completely dark, but I realized I had something to say about it,” he said.
In addition to taking the stage as “the Dork Knight” in August, O’Connell also can be seen in Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival’s production of “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” with performances ongoing through Sept. 1.
As a member of the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival for the past five years, O’Connell said that Shakespeare plays are truly his favorite type of production. He raved about the emotional journeys of the characters and the beautiful things they have to say about love and loss, but he also recognized the challenge of making Shakespeare relatable to audiences of all ages.
“I want to make it so clear to the people who are watching me that they might forget that I’m speaking in Shakespearean verse,” O’Connell said. “If a kid is there who would never want to watch Shakespeare, I want them to enjoy it.”
IF YOU GO
What: “The Dork Knight,” written and performed by Jason O’Connell
When: Thursdays, Aug. 2, 16 and 30, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays, Aug. 18 and 24, at 8 p.m.
Where: Philipstown Depot Theatre; 10 Garrison’s Landing, Garrison; 845-424-3900; philipstowndepottheatre.org
Info: Tickets are offered for a donation, and the suggested donation for the show is $20; shows are suitable for age 13 and up due to serious themes and adult language