Conor Mullen: Taking a Beating

At a normal rehearsal, you’ll find Conor Mullen, teaching his fellow cast mates to punch HIM in the mouth. Aside from playing the conniving Dolan in the production, he is also the fight coordinator… yes, there are lots of battles on LINE.

We declared a truce and spoke with Conor.

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We hear a lot about inspiration – or Muse – that drives an artist. What inspires you?

In short, the work of others. I go out and see as much theatre as I can. Partly because I love experiencing theatre but also because seeing theatre, good and bad, inspires me to do well in my own work. I can’t tell you how many amazing shows I’ve walked out of unable to contain myself talking about the cool choices they made and how I want to experiment with what they’re doing in my own work, and I can’t tell you how many bad shows I’ve walked out of talking to my friends about how we could improve on what they’re doing or how they only needed to make one small change to make what they were doing really work. I think that’s a universal truth in theatre, we’re all each other’s muses

What is your vision and process for the play/part

One of my favorite genres is the “throw a bunch of big personalities together and watch them bounce off each other” genre. Line is very much that kind of play and as such there’s a huge focus on character. Given all that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my relationship to every other character on stage. Every relationship has to be unique. It’s not as simple as “well, I dislike all these people except this one guy who I’m worried is smarter than I am”. It’s much more complicated than that. I like to think of it like a set of variables that my character is trying to keep track of. There are 10 or so variables I have to keep track of when I’m interacting with Stephen, and 10 different variables I have to keep track of when I’m interacting with Fleming, and when I talk with both of them at the same time I’m keeping track of those 20 and and another 5 or so my character notices between them. I have to keep all those variables straight in my head and let every line be informed by them as well

What do you want most in your chosen profession? It’s OK to say “fame” or “wealth.”

Education. When I received my bachelor of science in theatre I knew I was finally at a point where it was feasible for me to start teaching. But I asked myself the question: “who the hell am I to be teaching anybody anything? All I really know at this point about theatre is what I’ve been taught. I need to spend some time learning on my own.” So, I packed up my bags and moved to New York City, not to make it as an actor or a director or a fight choreographer (though having success in any of those fields would be welcome), but to learn as much about theatre as I could from doing it. The best thing about my dream is that even if I fail in New York City for five to ten years I’ll still have achieved my goals: I’ll have learned about theatre by doing it.

Sally Field and Paul Newman both said of their profession… “it’s all I can do.” Is this all you can do?

I had two majors in college: one in Theatre and the other in Computer Science. I work a lot of day job tech gigs to pay the bills in NYC. When I’m going to my day job it’s all about being as efficient as possible. How can I get to the train as efficiently as possible? What about which train I take, what exit from the station, what blocks do I turn on, how can that be efficient? Working with computer’s it’s the same thing: how can I be efficient with my mouse clicks, my window placements, my code design, my lunch breaks, my paycheck, my time each day? But then, in theatre, on stage, there is no “efficient”. There’s room to breath. There’s space to think and feel and be inefficient and that’s okay. I don’t think theatre is all I can do, but I do think it’s all I can do to stay sane.

Along those lines, if you couldn’t so this, what would you do?

I would teach. But I’d probably be teaching computer science or some kind of math class. Heck, if I’m dreaming I’d teach a class on story structure and game design in modern video games. That would be fun, and it would still scratch that artistic itch.

How do you want [legit] history to remember you?

Our legacy is made up of what we create and who we impact. I would like the theatre organizations I’ve started and been a part of to be maintained and looked upon fondly and I would like people to have been influenced for the better for knowing me.

Last words? 

Life’s not about winning, it’s about losing in the most awesome way possible.

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