“John O’Keefe is an American original, a national treasure. I considered him my own private William Burroughs. I am sure many others considered him their own – experimental theater shaman. I live for John’s late night calls raging against performance art snobs, or regional theater poohbahs, or just to declare, ‘I’m a singer Mark! Screw this theater scene, I am not part of that, I am born to sing!’ And he is that and so much more!”

[Use the circles below to self-navigate through the sequence.]

Mark Russell, Public Theater NYC

“John O’Keefe’s work is like tripping on a psychotropic drug: The world keeps revealing itself in ways you never imagined… wondrous, terrifying, hurtling us into the unknown at the speed of light.”

Tony Taccone, Artistic Director, Berkeley Rep

“I flatter myself by calling O’Keefe my “artistic older brother.” I went to the University of Iowa after John and he was already legend when I got there. He came back to Iowa when some of his work was being done and everything about it was awe-inspiring. The boldness, the passion, the vivid imagination … it inspires me to this day. I’ve been teaching at UCLA Extension and various other institutions for 25 years, and I always use snippets of O’Keefe’s work to show students what is possible if you are bold, precise and write from the heart. O’Keefe is a poet and warrior of the stage.”

Leon Martell, Writer / Teacher

“I urge readers to see and read John O’Keefe’s outstanding work. He’s a treasure!”

Anne Cattaneo, Dramaturg, Lincoln Center Theater

“John O’Keefe is at this point something of a national treasure. In an age of MFAization of fine arts and theatre, voices such as O’Keefe’s become ever more important. And its important to look at John’s work in total, rather than at individual plays or performance pieces. O’Keefe isn’t about masterpieces, but rather about the creation and sustaining of a sensibility. And that is one linked to the working class (whose voices have all but been erased today) and to an anarchistic vision that might be reasonably seen as tied to Alfred Jarry and Artaud, and The Brontes and Jack London. But there are likely a dozen other referents I could find, Grotowski, Henry David Thoreau, Henry Miller and Blaise Cendrars. O’Keefe is a brilliant actor it should be noted. I directed him twice and can testify to this. His is a western voice, too, a left coast voice. And finally will always be an outsider. To his credit.”

John Steppling, Playwright

“John O’Keefe’s “VID” opened my mind to previously unseen possibilities in solo performance. Its mind-blowing structure and poetic power gave me a beautiful, impossible goal to shoot for in my own work.”

Josh Kornbluth, Playwright/ Solo Performer

“One night in New York, I went to see John at PS 122. Afterwards, over drinks with PS 122’s Mark Russell, we discussed commissioning John’s next work as a co-production with our Bay Area theater, Life On The Water. Right then and there I wrote out an agreement on a napkin, and all three of us signed it. Somewhere, I still have that napkin. I can say without question that John’s voice is one that I will never get out of my head. The closing moments of Shimmer alone gave me the experience of feeling the top of my head exploding into the troposphere, as if all the beauty of being human had been wrought into substance, and been released, as only the very best of theater can achieve. John created countless such moments; I was lucky to catch a few.”

Joe Lambert, Director, Center for Digital Storytelling

On the first day of acting class with O’Keefe, he had everyone sweep the floor while he watched, after which he told the sweepers what type of people they were and therefore what type of actors they were going to be… and he was right although they were usually disappointed by his total lack of concern about anybody’s inflated sense of self. His BS meter was ALWAYS on the money. Anyway, I loved the way he mixed art with athleticism, acting with sports, politics with sex by way of sharing stories of his brutal gorgeous, tragic and punk rock life.”

Paul Codiga, Location Manager, CBS TV

“I love all of John’s plays, some more than others, but they all have in common an intelligence and genius of originality. Always surprising. Every play is different in subject matter and style.”

Geoffrey Pond, Actor / Director

“I remember him reading aloud a passage from Bekin’s Rage. He uttered an image. It was so rich, I wanted to pause and think about it. But, before I knew it, he was seven images down the page. His work is incredibly dense, full of insights. You can taste his images.”

Jonathan Albert

“To me O’Keefe is like that precocious child on the playground who invents new ways of playing. He is a fearless artist taking his phenomenology into poetry, prose or theatre, choral singing or radio plays. He is always challenging and pushes all those around him to work harder, go deeper, get wilder so to overthrow the received ideas and find your true deep soul. And you can also feel that he will be there to catch you if you fall.”

Mike Lyons

“The poetry of John O’Keefe’s writing shows me time and again that a play isn’t about something, it is something.”  

Cass Brayton, Playwright / Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence