Actor, director, and stage director John O'Neal has been a leading advocate of the view that "politics" and "art" are complementary, not opposing terms. O'Neal was the Kirkland Project artist-in-residence from March 29 through March 31, 2001.
John O'Neal earned a BA degree from Southern Illinois University in 1962. Upon graduation he became a Field Secretary of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. From this involvement came the Free Southern Theater, which began as the Tougaloo Drama Workshop, founded by O'Neal and Gilbert Moses at Tougaloo College in 1963, and grew to become a theater of national significance. Settling in New Orleans in 1965, the Free Southern Theater combined a touring repertory company, a community engagement program in New Orleans, and training workshops in Black Theater. (Often, communities touched by the touring Theater developed their own Black Theater programs.) FST's purpose was "to use theater as an instrument to stimulate the development of critical and reflective thought among Black people in the South" and to support the efforts of those involved in the Civil Rights Movement. The FST expired in 1980. That same year O'Neal organized Junebug Productions, an arts organization based in New Orleans which he now serves as Artistic Director. Junebug Productions operates a nationally acclaimed touring theater company, a presenting program and a community cultural development program in New Orleans.
John O'Neal's most recent project, the ColorLine Project, is a story collecting and performance event about the Civil Rights Movement. Communities across the US will undertake a story collection process about the Civil Rights Movement and then, aided by O'Neal, will discover ways to publicly present the stories to the public to stimulate further dialog about the theme and the importance of personal story.
While on campus, O'Neal guest lectured in two Hamilton College classes, met with faculty, administrators, and students, conducted two workshops, and performed on the stage.
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