Five Questions for Maureen Huskey
Name: Maureen Huskey (formally Brennan)
Title/Occupation: Theater Director
1. Where did you grow up and how did you end up where you are now?
I grew up in small towns of Colorado with Grand Junction leaving the greatest impression on me. I yearn for big open spaces and quiet mountain ranges as much as I need the nitty gritty and sensory overload of city life. After a 2 year stint in Minneapolis I moved to NY and lived there for 15 years. In New York (living mostly in Brooklyn) I was in constant motion surviving day to day while scrambling to make theater. It was exhausting but worth it. (I can’t tell you how many bags of props and set pieces I lugged up and down subway stairs over the years.) When, as a late bloomer, I finally decided to go to graduate school (CalArts), get married and have a child all within just a few years, Los Angeles made its claim on me. I can honestly say now that I found my home. LA somehow offers the best of both worlds to me. And, while people still like to say that LA is not a theater town, I am convinced that it can be.
2. Which performance, song, play, movie, painting or other work of art had the biggest influence on you and why?
I really can’t say that there is a single influence that I can point to. I have had many seminal art experiences over my life that have come at the right time and influenced me in profound ways. I will add, however, that recently I saw Romeo Castellucci’s, Divine Comedy performed at UCLA LIve. This production trumped most art experiences I have had up to this point. It truly set a new bar for me in what art and theater is capable of. It completely turned me inside out personally and artistically and I will never forget the impact it left on me.
3. What skill, talent or attribute do you most wish you had and why?
Without hesitation I would say a musician or conductor. My dad was a one man band and I grew up with him playing the piano and accordion all by ear. I always wanted his natural ability but other than holding 1st chair in clarinet for a week during 7th grade, I didn’t make it very far. Even now as I venture into directing projects that are more musically based, I wish I could just grab an instrument and jam out a tune or two. I guess directing theater is the closest thing I will get to conducting.
And why music? At the risk of sounding corny, I think its the closest thing to life itself.
4. What do you do to make a living? Describe a normal day.
Since last Fall I have been working theater projects pretty much back to back with short breaks in between. So when I am not in rehearsal I am balancing my time between preparing for my next project, homemaking and taking care of my 3 year old. My husband is an actor/writer and he also has a unpredictable schedule. So I have to keep flexible. For me keeping the balance between being a wife, mother and ambitious director is paramount. I personally need to work intensely and passionately for a period of time and then I am happy to stay home and only worry about what to cook for dinner. This lifestyle works for me.
5. Have you ever had to make a choice between work and art? What did you choose, why, and what was the outcome?
In the late 90’s I had already hit the 5 year mark of working administrative jobs for a large Madison Avenue Advertising agency in New York. I was making decent money as a day jobber, and I even started a 401K. I rehearsed downtown shows during the evenings and took every opportunity to capitalize on corporate life to support my art. But eventually I had to make a change or I would have gotten sucked in too deep. After some heart-wrenching hemming and hawing, I took a job as a program director for a small arts organization. I was surrounded by artists and had greater flexibility. Yet, my income was cut over half. I never thought I would survive, but I did survive and this became a significant turning point for me. From that point on I continued to take risks to build my career as a theater artist. I have never looked back.
Maureen Huskey will be appearing in Week One (July 22-24) of REDCAT’s New Original Works (NOW) Festival. For more information click here.
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