Kathryn O’Reilly (http://www.kathryn-oreilly.com) is an actor, writer, filmmaker and producer.
She trained at LAMDA and now works extensively in the London arts scene.
Her newest play, Poisoned Polluted, is showing at the Old Red Lion Theatre Pub 5 – 30 November.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
Theatre has always been a big part of my life. Since being a teenager, from the moment I trod the boards as a Jet Girl in a pro-am production of West Side Story, I’ve been hooked on an amazing journey in this amazing business! I have also gained experience behind the scenes along the way, operating follow spots, set painting and working as a technician.
As an actor I’ve worked up through youth theatre, amateur, community theatre, theatre in education, and trained with various drama schools including BRIT Performing Arts School and LAMDA. Whilst at LAMDA I won the original poetry writing competition twice, adapting the first poem into a stage play, and a short film Klink Klank. From the second poem Him or Me my current play Poisoned Polluted has emerged. Poisoned Polluted will be playing at The Old Red Lion Theatre from 5th-30th November, and I will also be acting in it.
Aside from acting, I always wanted to be a producer and playwright. A couple of years ago I was fortunate enough to complete the StageOne New Producers’ workshop. I was a member of the Royal Court Young Writers programme and completed various playwriting courses including some at City Lit. I have a desire to keep learning and improve my craft and still go to classes and continue to train – I am currently studying playwriting at Essex University!
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
No. I’ve set out to do certain things when opportunities arise such as castings – I’ll go all out to try and get the job. There are too many factors at play and other people making decisions that make acting difficult to plan. An idea of direction and a desire to achieve something is good, but it may not turn out as you expect, and that can also be good.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
Many challenges! I think the best way to navigate yourself through is to know you are good enough and if they didn’t pick you it wasn’t your gig. You have to be incredibly resilient and keep on keeping on.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
It’s funny because everything is connected, we operate within systems of cause and effect and there are so many steppingstones along to way to perusing one’s goals that I feel like even the small achievements are in fact big.
I am however immensely proud of having my work published by Nick Hern Books. My first play Screwed was published in 2016 and played at Theatre503.
I received the most heart-warming DM on twitter from someone who randomly took themselves to Theatre503, having never seen theatre before, saw Screwed and was so inspired by it. Consequently, they “fell in love with Theatre” and, not only that, they started writing!
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
The never-ending unconditional support from my parents.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
Mentoring can be incredibly beneficial, to both parties – it’s just getting the right balance, the right people connected, working together and understanding what’s needed.
When I have approached people in the past to mentor me, I’ve been told, ‘you don’t need a mentor’, which was not necessarily a bad response but maybe a push to say to me, ‘you can do it, stop looking for reassurance’. Having said that I seemed to have slipped into a couple of mentoring situations without having asked for it. And other times I’ve received great support and guidance from mentors around things I’ve not done before. With my play Screwed, we were fortunate enough to receive Arts Council Funding and whilst working with Arts Producer Maeve O’Neill she brilliantly mentored me through the process of managing that. Currently I am receiving great mentoring support from Mimi Findlay, Producer at Clean Break.
There must be real commitment and open generosity for it to really work.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
Don’t let opportunities pass you by. Get out of your own way!
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
I would like to get my next play into production in 2020, so it’s a case of getting the right team together. Also, in 2020 I am producing a new play by Andrew Cartmel, directed by Conrad Blakemore.