Since then Dan's been very busy. We've talked about his directing something for Hard Sparks, but so far he's been booked. His latest is Dan Fingerman's The Austerity of Hope at the 2011 Fresh Fruit Festival. Here's Dan's 7Q.
First, there’s our cast – we found eleven (!) people who are incredibly talented. And although we didn’t cast based on looks (I swear!) they are also one of the hottest ensembles I’ve ever directed. If you come hang out with us after the show you’ll find that they are beautiful on the inside as well. Every single moment of rehearsal has been an absolute joy, and I think that joy comes through in the performance. Then there is Dan Fingerman’s script – The Austerity of Hope concerns a group of friends living in Astoria, Queens just before and a few months after the 2008 election. Dan has very much written this play from his own life, to the point where those who know him may recognize (or think they recognize) certain characters and situations. Dan has tried to be as specific as possible about the minutiae of gay life in Astoria and New York City, and I think this specificity actually allows The Austerity of Hope to appeal to a wide cross-section of audiences. It’s like with any good play – the more specific you get, the more you are able to speak to those who are not necessarily “represented” on stage.
2. What theatrical experience(s), your work or others’, has really rocked your world?
I see way too much theatre – it is a result of living in New York, studying theatre, and being the kind of person who needs to see everything. So I could write pages in answer to this, but I won’t. New York is wonderful because it is one of the few places in the U.S. where one can regularly see some of the amazing work developed in other countries. BAM’s Next Wave Festival often has some interesting work: a few years back I was utterly captivated by Krum, three uninterrupted hours (all in Polish) that have stayed with me ever since. More recently at BAM was Robert Lepage’s Lipsynch, a marathon nine hours filled with some exquisite moments of stagecraft. For the past 14 or so years I have been a big fan of the theatre company Complicite – if you ever have a chance to see something by them, definitely go. And I thought the National Theatre of Scotland’s Black Watch was one of the most thrilling, moving, and heart-breaking pieces of theatre ever. But I love American artists too! The recent Tony Kushner season at the Signature was wonderful, and The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide… actually inspired my direction of The Austerity of Hope. The only problem with the Kushner season is that it left out Caroline, or Change, which is hands-down the best musical of the past 20 or 30 years. Every time I listen to it, I get chills. I am forever in awe of every single element of that show.
3. How do you decide what sort of underwear should be worn by the actors in AOH?
Ha! This is the first piece I’ve done where I have had to deal with this. Not that I’m complaining. It’s funny – I found myself focusing on color and cut, and the other Dan (the playwright) was all about having the proper brand. We both wanted to choose underwear that was authentic to what these characters would wear – not all of them necessarily put on fancy “hot” underwear when they get dressed in the morning, and we wanted to reflect that. Yet let’s be real – we all want the actors to look good in the underwear, so we tried to pick stuff that is flattering. And it was important to me to make sure that the actors were very comfortable wearing whatever we picked.
4. A big-budget Broadway play based on the story of your life is in production. Sadly, the producers of Mas Dinero! do not see you as enough of a draw to play the titular role. Which Hollywood A-lister gets the job?
I’d want an out actor. And although it’s a shame there aren’t more A-listers to choose from, I think my pick would be the same regardless: the intelligent, funny, charming, and very handsome Neil Patrick Harris. And given my life, I’m sure Cheyenne Jackson and Ricky Martin would have sizeable featured roles.
5. What’s your favorite charitable cause or philanthropic organization? Why should everyone reading this rally round their flag?
As valid as the argument for marriage equality is, much of the related discussion and activism tends to ignore various segments of the population, including those (like myself) who are not in relationships with U.S. citizens. Immigration Equality (www.immigrationequality.org) is a group that fights for equality under U.S. immigration law for LGBT and HIV-positive individuals. Immigration law is incredibly complex and confusing, and Immigration Equality provides up-to-date legal information for those who need it. And just as importantly, they lobby for changes in legislation so that bi-national queer couples and families might one day not have to make the difficult choice (a choice other bi-national families generally aren’t forced to make) to either separate when one person’s visa expires, or else leave the U.S. in order to stay together.
6. Is 'gay theatre' redundant?
The term itself isn’t redundant (although “gay musical theatre” is another story – as I argue in my academic work, all musicals are pretty gay). As for the genre? Gay theatre is absolutely necessary. If the question is why do we need to distinguish it from “theatre” in general, it’s because queer folks are not all “just the same” as everyone else. It’s crucial to honor the specificity and diversity of our fabulous queer lives, and gay/queer theatre is one way to do that.
7. Mum always says you should have a Plan B. So if you weren’t making theatre, what would you be doing?
Finishing my dissertation. I’m getting a Ph.D. in Performance Studies at NYU, writing a dissertation called Feeling Musical: Contemporary Musical Theatre and the American Liberal Subject. And yes mom, it’s almost done.
The Austerity of Hope opens Monday July 18th at TBG Theatre, 312 West 36th Street, 3rd Floor.
Ticket at www.SmartTix.com or 212 868 4444
Dan Dinero has directed six plays for Emerging Artists Theatre, where he is also the Associate Directors' Company Manager. Other NY credits include Fixing Frank and Lonely Planet with the Greenland Theatre Collective, a company he co-founded. Most recently, Dan directed one of the companies in Artistic New Directions' innovative production of The Rubber Room. Dan assisted Jeff Calhoun on the Broadway productions of both Brooklyn (also Denver Civic, NY workshop) and Deaf West's Big River (also National tour), and he assistant directed the New York premiere of Tennessee Williams's Spring Storm. Dan is currently writing his dissertation for a PhD in Performance Studies at NYU.