Five Questions for Robert Lyons

Robert Lyons; photo by Carl Skutsch

Robert Lyons; photo by Carl Skutsch

Name:  Robert Lyons
Title/Occupation:  Artististic Director
Organization/Company:  Soho Think Tank / Ohio Theatre

1. Where did you grow up and how did you end up where you are now?

I was born in Detroit Mi and raised in the suburbs.  I left Michign when I graduated from MSU and spent six or seven years traveling around the east coast (Boston, Rockport MA, Philidelphia, etc.) and then London.  All the while working in the theatre and writing plays.  When I returned from England I came to NYC and almost immediately stumbled upon the Ohio Theatre.  It had been closed by the fire department and I was production managing the first show since it was brought up to code.  I met the owner of the theatre, William Hahn, and asked him who was running his theatre for him.  He said, no one at the moment.  I said, I could do that for you.  He said, let’s try it for a year.  That was twenty years ago.

2. Which performance, song, play, movie, painting or other work of art had the biggest influence on you and why?

When I was living in Rockport MA I was painting houses and writing poetry and short stories.  I went to Gloucester to hear a blues band at a bar.  Before the band,  a local theatre company performed a short play.  Afterwards, I ended up hanging out with the actors when the band came on.  When I got home hat night  (aroung 3 AM) I took one of my short stories and elimated all the prose and just kept the dialogue.  That was my first play.  I have been writing plays ever since.

3. What skill, talent or attribute do you most wish you had and why?

I wish I was more prolific.  I admire writers who can “crank out” plays.

4. What do you do to make a living? Describe a normal day.

I run the Ohio Theatre to make a living.  I try to write in the morning, then go to the office in the afternoon.  I am happiest when I go to rehearsals at night.

5. Have you ever had to make a choice between work and art? What did you choose, why, and what was the outcome?

I have tried to balance the choice between work and art., but the scale tends to tip toward work!  But even work is running a theatre, which is in support of creating art. As you may know, the Ohio Theatre is closing after next season.  Check in two years from now, I may have a very different answer!

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