be passionate at BC
Paul Daigneault ’87 is celebrating his 25th reunion with more than a weekend at the Heights: as the 2011-2012 Rev. J. Donald Monan, S.J., Professor in Theatre Arts, he’s coming back to BC for an entire year.
Paul chose BC after falling in love with the new Robsham Theater, though he knew little else about the school. He was lucky, he says now: “BC was the perfect place for me. I still feel well rounded in my life thanks to my liberal arts education.”
He had discovered the stage in high school, but it was in a directing class at BC that he found his life’s work. Directing brought his passion and talent together in a way he hadn’t experienced on stage.
“In acting, I could never fully let go to immerse myself in my characters,” he explains. “I found I could bring myself to life on stage through directing.”
Trying to build a career in New York, he encountered a classic “catch-22;” he couldn’t get hired without experience, and he couldn’t get experience if no one would hire him. So, he says with a laugh, “I created my own career.” He came back to Boston and founded SpeakEasy Stage Company.
Under his twenty years of leadership, SpeakEasy has grown into one of New England’s most successful and respected theaters, known for its regional premieres of contemporary musicals and plays. Paul continues to be its principal director.
“I’m not a tortured artist,” he says. “I bring the joy I find in the theater to my students. I tell them, ‘do it because you love it.’”
What has been the most satisfying moment in your professional life?
This past year—SpeakEasy Stage’s 20th anniversary—the company gave me the Outstanding Artist award. That concretely summed up everything I’ve accomplished, not only with SpeakEasy but as a faculty member at the Boston Conservatory.
In your personal life?
Just being alive. This past year I battled lymphoma, spending six months in and out of the hospital and completing chemotherapy. The greatest day was when they told me I was officially in remission.
What is the secret to success?
“Keep your eye on the ball.” My father used to say that to me about baseball. But I think it applies to so much more. It’s so easy to watch what other people are doing, wonder “are they more successful than I am, should I be doing something else”—but if you keep your eye on your own goal, you’ll be successful.
What is something your friends don’t know about you?
I’m a diehard Red Sox fan.
What is one thing everyone should do while at BC?
See live theater!
Why did you decide to attend BC?
It just felt like the right place. I was the first in my family to go to college so I didn’t get much advice on where to go. I toured a few places and liked the atmosphere at BC—and I loved Robsham Theater, which had just opened.
What is your fondest BC memory?
Hanging out in the green room at Robsham with friends. That’s where I felt like I first created a family outside of my own family.
Where is your favorite spot on the Heights?
Edmonds 711. I have great memories of that apartment in my junior year.
How have you changed since graduation?
I don’t really know how to answer that. My youthful spirit has never left me.
What would you do if you were BC president for a day?
Formally recognize gay students and gay student groups.
Where did you live freshman year?
What was your favorite BC class?
Directing, in my junior year. Everything came together there: my passion, my talent. That’s when I knew I’d found my career.
What was your favorite BC activity?
Rehearsals at night.
How much can you sing of the BC fight song?
[Sings briefly] I can do the tune, but I don’t remember the words.
What was the best meal at the BC dining hall?
Well, I don’t remember what was best, but I sure ate a lot of chicken patties on sub rolls at McElroy.
What was your first job?
One of my most valuable experiences was my BC work-study job. All four years, I worked in the scene shop, and developed lots of production skills.
How do you relax?
Playing Scrabble on Facebook with friends; riding my bike; and napping in my hammock in the back yard.
What do you look forward to each day?
Watching my son Ardani grow, develop, and have fun; I live a little through him.
What is your next goal?
To take Speakeasy Stage into the next 20 years, in two ways: work on its sustainability by building its organizational infrastructure, and introduce a program of producing new works.
Who would play you in the film version of your life?