Friday, July 20, 2012
Spotlight On...Dana Yeaton
Hometown: Epsom, NH
Education: Middlebury College, Goddard College
Favorite Credits: Moss Hart Award for Mad River Rising, Helen Hayes nomination for Redshirts, the Heideman Award.
Why theater?: Because it’s an almost impossible challenge. A group of strangers meet in the dark in hopes that something transcendent will occur? No way! But then, sometimes ... way.
Tell us about Swing State: It’s a musical about these two lost souls -- she’s an evangelical Kindergarten teacher in Ohio, and he’s the gay chiropractor, who’s new in town and gets to treat her chronic back problems. And she’s his only real patient, so they desperately need each other, desperately want to change each other, but of course they’re speaking different languages. Sort of like Red and Blue America.
What inspired you to write Swing State?: I spend a lot of time bummed out about this country and wondering how to deal with that. Maybe if I stopped listening to the news. Maybe if I stopped reading those crazy forwarded emails from my dad. Maybe if I just became a higher being, I wouldn’t spend so much time, as my chiropractor puts it “hating people I’ve never met.” So for dramatic purposes, I started with a “what if.” “What if those awful people who are ruining this country . . . were your only hope?”
What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I like naturalism that lifts off. And I’m a sucker for the little guy: un-extraordinary people in situations that keep revealing just how deep they go. So I like the writers who start small and real, then earn their theatricality.
If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Have you ever heard the story of how Oskar Eustis worked with Tony Kushner on Angels in America? I want that. Oskar Eustis, please.
What show have you recommended to your friends?: After I saw Amy Herzog’s 4,000 Miles I pretty much would not shut up about it. Same goes for Tribes by Nina Raine. Two writers at the top of their games.
Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: I would play the disapproving-but-kind father who has to keep talking his son out of trees. It’s called "Lucky Boy."
What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Please don’t tell my children, but this month, living in Brooklyn, I seem to be someone who will sit on a stoop, wearing a tank top and smoking a hand-rolled cigarette. Who knew?
If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: An architect, because their ideas turn into spaces that people live and work in.
What’s up next?: All I know is that it takes place on a cruise ship, deals with the slave labor force those ships run on, and features a cabaret singer who believes she is co-writing songs with Janis Joplin. And Janis is doing much better these days.