May 21, 2014 in Author Interviews

We’re pleased to feature Daniel Guyton, author of Death of a Snowman and Rosie the Retired Rockette in our Author Spotlight!

How did you get started writing plays?

I started as a poet and cartoonist actually. I would write dozens of short stories and poems and cartoons all throughout middle and high school, and entertain my friends with them. I was a very shy teenager and didn’t talk much.  Then in my senior year of high school, I decided I did not want to be shy anymore, so I took an acting class. It helped me really break out of my shell. By the time I got to college, I was hooked. During my junior year of college, a friend suggested I combine my two loves into one, and write a play.  I did, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Who has influenced you the most in your theatrical life?

So many to name. I had some wonderful professors. Bill Leone was an acting professor who was tough as nails, but who loved the art of theatre so much, it was infectious. Ken Bush was another acting professor who specialized in comedy, which has always been my favorite genre. He taught me some insightful tricks on how to interpret and perform comedic plays, which I later incorporated into my writing of comedic plays. James Farrell was very first playwriting instructor, and my most ardent supporter.  I have always learned best from watching others, and I have had no shortage of mentors throughout my life – something for which I am always grateful.

Describe your writing process.  Where does the idea come from? How do you make it into a play?

For me, writing a play is like putting a puzzle together. The individual pieces are my own – the dialogue, the characters, the action, the setting – and I feel a tremendous amount of freedom in the creation of those pieces; however in the end, all of those pieces all must fit together, or the whole puzzle falls apart.  I become a problem solver. How can THESE characters in THIS setting resolve THIS specific conflict? Or maybe they can’t resolve it, which is interesting also. But the beginning part of the process is creating the puzzle pieces, and the rest of the process involves solving the puzzle. I have always found the second part to be the hardest – but also the most rewarding when it works.

What is your advice for young theater artists?

If you love it, do it. In fact, there is no other reason to be in theatre than for the sheer love and joy of it. The skills that you learn in this field; public speaking, listening to your teammates, enunciation, teamwork, carpentry, lighting, stage management, harvesting your imagination – all of these skills can be used in other fields – sometimes even better than people from other disciplines. For instance, imagine a lawyer with a theatrical background. A politician. A carpenter. A CEO in a big business. They all use skills that are inherent to the theatre arts.

If a particular type of music inspires you, what is it?

I enjoy all music, however I find more inspiration in a well written lyric than in the instrumentation. For instance, Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder have some of the most mysterious and beautiful lyrics I’ve ever heard. Other artists that I love are Ben Gibbard (from Postal Service and Death Cab for Cutie), Sarah McLachlan, Arcade Fire, Lana Del Rey. I even find some of Eminem’s lyrics to be mind-blowing. And, funny enough, “Weird Al” Yankovic has a way of turning some beautiful songs into brilliant and hilarious satires. As a playwright, I always love combining satire and beauty into a neat little package, so I find him very inspirational.

What is your favorite dessert?

Chocolate cream pie.

Do you have any pets? If so, what kind(s)

Two dogs and a cat. The cat is a fat black-and-white tuxedo cat named Toulouse Lautrec. He was named after he fell asleep below a poster of the artist’s work. When he is naughty, we call him TouLucifer LaWreck. Our dogs are both rescues. One is a Chihuahua and miniature Doberman mix. We named him Pablo Picasso, in keeping with the painter theme. The larger dog is a German Shepherd and yellow lab mix. We couldn’t think of a good female painter’s name that seemed to fit her, so we went with a different type of artist, and named her Norah Jones. The two dogs hate the cat with a passion, but they have a healthy fear of his claws as well.  Our animals keep us laughing quite a bit.