About Jim O’Connor
Jim O’Connor has maintained three careers; that of a professional theatre director, a university professor and as an administrator. He has directed in many of the professional Regional Theatres including the Alley Theatre, Stage West, Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Wisdom Bridge and Northlight Theatres in Chicago, and The Walnut Street theatre in Philadelphia among others. He has also directed in New York and for the Dublin Theatre Festival. He directed regularly at the Repertory Theatre of St . Louis and has done numerous productions for the Utah Shakespearean Festival. These included Peg O’ My Heart, Julius Caesar, The Tempest, All’s Well That Ends Well, and other Shakespeare works. Since leaving the academic world in 2014 he continues to direct regularly with the most recent a production being Doll’s House Part2 for the 2018 Aspen Fringe Festival.
He taught at Purdue University from 1970 until 1997 where he created the Master of Fine Arts programs in Acting and Directing that he headed for many years. He moved from Purdue to the University of South Carolina where he headed the MFA directing program. The 2008-09 year was spent as a Distinguished Professor at the Universiti of Creatif Technologi in Sha Alam, Malaysia. While there he also directed a production of Mid-Summer Night’s Dream (Mimpi) at the National Theatre, That production was performed in Malay. He returned to Malaysia for six months in 2016-17 where he taught in Kuala Lumpur at ASWARA, the National School of the Arts.
Jim Chaired the Theatre Division at Purdue from 1987 until 1997. He also served as the Artistic Director of the Professional Summer Theatre from 1987-1994. He occupied the Chair and served as the Artistic Director at the University of South Carolina from 1997 until returning to the teaching faculty there in 2004. Other administrative positions were serving as the President of the University / Resident Theatre Association, from 1995 until 1999 where he over saw the recruiting of graduate theatre students for a consortium of 31 universities. He also served as the President of The Nation Theatre Conference an organization of leaders in academic and professional theatre.
Jim studied Painting and Art History in Buffalo New York and at the University of New Mexico where he received his MA degree. He received his Master of Fine Arts degree in Directing and Acting from Penn State University where he was later recognized as a Distinguished Graduate Alumni. He was designated as a Legend by the theater program at Purdue. His has been awarded the Critic’s Choice award for Directing in Cleveland, Ohio and he has received a Joseph Jefferson Nomination in for his directing in Chicago. He was inducted as a Fellow, in the College of Fellows of the American Theater in 2016.
Jim O'Connor was interviewed by Jeni Mahoney the Players in New York City during the 2017 National Theater Conference.