By Peter McDermott
Brendan Connellan knows just what kind of reaction he wants to get from audiences this week.
"I hope they'll be shifting uncomfortably in their seats," said the Dublin-born, New York-based performer and playwright. "While laughing."
Specifically, he had in mind some of his friends and former colleagues on Wall Street who are going to see "Kill the Bid" at the Manhattan Theater Source on McDougal Street. "Some of them are quite excited about it," he said.
Connellan, who left his native city equipped with a green card, began working in New York's financial sector in the latter half of the 1990s.
But last year, he assumed his job was rather less than secure. "Wall Street has turned upside down," he said. "Companies have shriveled to half their size."
So, the Dubliner bailed out and opted to dedicate all of his energies to writing plays. Indeed he has written four that he plans to stage through next spring. "And I will also be doing four storytelling shows in that time period," he said.
"It thought I'd have a good concerted go at it," said the University College Dublin graduate. "It was as good a moment as any.
"The play is about humans pushed to the brink," he said of the first, which opened on Monday night. "What happens when you think you are going to lose your job? Whom might you hurt to stave off your own firing? How does your family view what you do, in the light of the global crisis? Are there better things to do with your life?"
Connellan understands the panicked "jostling" for survival by people with mortgages and comfortable lifestyles in the suburbs.
He believes also that his direct experience of that world of work combined with his immigrant outsider's status makes him well placed to write about it. But something else from his background is also important, he feels.
"Growing up, stories were a big part of my family life," said Connellan, who is the middle of five children.
He admires the brisk interplay involving multiple characters in the work of Alan Ayckbourn and the way that Martin McDonagh can have audiences gasping with shock and still lead them where he wants them to go. "
That's quite a skill," he said.
Connellan has been honing his own talents over the years in stand-up comedy, improv and story-telling at venues like the Nuyorican Poets Café and the Bowery Poetry Club.
"There was no real overlap with what anyone else was doing up there on stage," he said. "Those who liked it, liked it a lot."
In the process, he made friendships and contacts, which helped when he was putting together his cast of seven for "Kill the Bid." More than 50 actors went to his apartment to read for parts at various stages of the writing process.
Connellan is directing the play and also acting in it. He took on another key role, too, to ensure that the project got done. "I decided to produce it myself, even though it is a harrowing and exhausting process," he said.