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    It’s not easy working six full days every week in the summertime, especially when you have multiple costume changes within just a couple of hours in the humid Kentucky heat. And no one knows this better than Kentucky Shakespeare’s Jon Patrick O’Brien.

    If you’ve ventured out to Old Louisville’s Central Park this summer for this year’s season of Shakespeare in the Park, you’ve witnessed Louisville native O’Brien hard at work. The program’s talented actor has portrayed Boatswain in this season’s production of "The Tempest," Christopher Sly in "The Taming of the Shrew," and the title character in "Macbeth." And between rehearsals and memorizing lines, he sat down with to share some insight on Kentucky Shakespeare. How long have you been working as an actor for Kentucky Shakespeare?

    O’Brien: This is my second year doing Kentucky Shakespeare. When Matt Wallace [Kentucky Shakespeare’s Producing Artistic Director] took over last year, I auditioned for him for 'Hamlet.' And that seemed to go well, so he asked me to come back again this year and I said ‘Why not?’ Which play do you enjoy working on the most this season?

    O’Brien: They’re all just so different. As an actor who’s playing Macbeth, I love Boatswain because I come on for the first scene and then I don’t come back until the last scene, so there’s a beautiful break when I can just hang out. And then Christopher Sly is a drunkard so there’s room in there to just free your impulses. And then there’s Macbeth. I would say Macbeth is my favorite because within the downfall you have those moments where you’re able to play but also deepen and continually discover new things. What’s your favorite part about working with Kentucky Shakespeare?

    O’Brien: Kentucky Shakespeare is awesome. I’m really happy to be a part of it. For a Louisville actor, Kentucky Shakespeare is three to four months out of the year that you can get paid for doing what you love, and that is a rarity. So to be a part of it, and especially with this group of people, is a real blessing. Can you give us any fun facts about the production?

    O’Brien:  Hydrate! It gets so hot out here. And because it’s so hot, our crew definitely deserves recognition. They’re the first to arrive in the park every morning and they stay outside in the heat all day. They’re truly the unsung heroes of Kentucky Shakespeare. You’ve grown quite a beard over the summer. Are you keeping it purposely for your roles this season?

    O’Brien: When winter started, I grew a beard. You have to have a beard for winter because it’s cold. But it’s never gotten this long. And now it’s become such a ‘thing,’ who knows what will happen to it after the show. I might keep it!

    You can catch Jon Patrick O’Brien and his new beard in all of his roles as Kentucky Shakespeare performs each of this season’s plays in rotation from July 15th – 26th at the C. Douglass Ramey Amphitheater in Central Park. Each show begins at 8pm and as always, admission is free! For the complete schedule, visit Kentucky Shakespeare’s website

    Photo courtesy of Kentucky Shakespeare. 

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    About Carly Garcia

    Lover of vegetarian cuisine, Stephen King, puppies, camping and wine...lots of wine.

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