Spolight on Alumni: Dan Daley
Please tell us about what you're up to these days, and about some of the most exciting work that you've done since graduating.
Upon graduating I found myself doing what I never thought I would be doing: producing. Producing is a broad word in independent theatre to mean the person who does the administrative and logistical work behind a project. Many have mistaken my title to mean the person who puts up the money for the project… I wish that were true, but that’s the producer in film.
So I took on my first project as the production assistant under the direction of Gwen Dobie on her company’s Toronto premiere of Sound in Silence. It would seem there is a great need for Producers in Toronto. Since that first project outside of York, I have been brought onto project after project producing for the Paprika Festival, the SummerWorks Festival, the Fringe of Toronto, Theatre Columbus, Theatre Direct and several one-off productions. I have a couple peers who have followed a similar path and they’re never without work.
Given the time consuming nature of producing, it has been a struggle for me to find other creative outlets. Fortunately I have managed to enroll in theatre workshops, write some plays, direct here and there and teach younger artists about what I do.
Lately my work has taken me away from Toronto to work in Newfoundland on a Shakespeare Festival, Palestine and Israel on a 9 city tour of an Arabic language play and now in India where I currently reside working on a youth theatre festival in central Mumbai.
What was the most challenging aspect or experience of training/studying at York?
I found it difficult to balance my course load in theatre classes with my electives in non-theatre faculties. This isn’t a concern for everyone in the program depending on what area you stream into, but I had a B.A degree path which meant a larger number of academic classes. It was frustrating to feel that I needed to rush my work for these courses because I had to give so many odd hours to theatre. Often I would burn through papers and exams not fully understanding the material. I really had to be careful how much I took on in these other faculties given just how demanding theatre can be.
Do you have any advice or tips for York students just entering the department?
It has been said before, but I will say it again: keep your friends close and your enemies closer. At some point we will all work together in some way. This work cannot be done in isolation. If you find yourself hiding from the crowd, take some time to re-evaluate what it is you want from the work and come back to it as a team player. Theatre school is roughly a microcosm of the larger theatre community that you will be entering. Take the time in school to find the people who will become reliable collaborators. If you cannot find them, don’t sweat it. Just keep yourself open to new projects and continue to offer your ideas. It's also wise to get involved with theatre companies now while you're in school so that when you leave, there are contacts waiting to hire you.
Do you have any advice or tips for York students just about to graduate? about to join the job market?
The job market of theatre has very few perimeters. You will have to donate your time for the first couple projects/shows/festivals until your seniors find they can’t do it without you. Then they will go out of their way to find money for you. In the meantime, make sure you get out to see lots of plays, meet people and when they ask, try to know roughly what you want to do. Maybe you have your own project to launch so start by finding people to help you. It’s possible to find a stable career in this field, but you will definitely come back to donating your time here and there because first and foremost it will always be a passion. Fortunately there are grants available to you and depending on your energy level, it is possible to fundraise your way into a successful career.