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Stop AAPI Hate

#45 – Mary Jo McConnell: Healing: The Artist & The Combat Soldier

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“I am a believer in the ‘Why’. Once I owned that purpose, once I identified that that was my purpose… all my hyphens made sense. Instead of feeling like a jack of all trades, master of none – I was finally under this umbrella of ‘Why’. I’m a healer.” 

Mary Jo McConnell’s purpose is simple: to heal. Not only is this incredible artist a part of the theatre industry for 35+ years as an actor, but her identity as a Veteran has provided her the incredible opportunity to work with, and most importantly heal, Veterans by using theatre as medicine tools in personal healing.

This episode is incredibly unique in a multitude of ways. Mary Jo opens us up to the perspective of Veterans healing by using theatre and also leads us through an exercise to ground ourselves and be present in the moment without judgement.

“Oftentimes the givers, the healers will extend themselves to show compassion for others, and hold space for others, and forget about the need to do it for themselves.”

As we emerge from the pandemic, healing should be in the forefront of our mind. How can we help heal the world around us, while still being present for ourselves? After recharging her batteries, Mary Jo has the perspective and experience to lend expertise as we gently guide ourselves towards recovering from the trauma.

If you’re looking to begin to move on, this episode is the gateway to start. Mary Jo’s voice is calming, shifting, and above all else: healing. While her voice is soothing, her intensity shines through. When asked about the comparisons between a soldier and an actor, she says, “I think the fact that they are two very committed beings, two incredibly committed entities, and committed in mind, body, and spirit. All of those things need to be aligned in order to achieve the mission. There’s something about being in the military – that level of camaraderie – that I have not found duplicated… even in the theatre.”

Please be advised this episode contains conversation of sexual assault in the military. 

Broadway National Tours: The Phantom of the Opera, Beauty and the Beast (Mrs. Potts), All Shook Up, Sister Act. Original Soap Star in the off-Broadway production of Menopause, the Musical. Regional theaters: Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Cincinnati Playhouse, Goodspeed Musicals, Paper Mill Playhouse, and more. Currently: UNA, the Nazi bombmaker in the Amazon Prime Series Hunters. Other TV: Pan Am, Masters of Sex, and One Life to Live. Indie films: “Trumped” (producing, co-writing and starring). Proud founding artist and winner of an inaugural “Builder Award” from The Musical Theatre Factory. Veteran: De-Cruit: using personal narrative and Shakespeare to mitigate trauma. CD: “A Voice for Healing”. Co-founder of the Veteran Arts Workshop-Online Portal (VAW-OP) and is offering free classes in arts/mindfulness to veterans and their families. IG: @maryjomcconnell

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Produced by Alan Seales and the Broadway Podcast Network.

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