Darian Dauchan, an actor and playwright, will perform all 15 roles in his new solo piece, “Media Madness,” at the Kitchen Theatre this weekend. The play addresses the media’s role in society and their influence on subjects like politics. Assistant News Editor Kathy Laluk spoke with Dauchan about his play, his experiences in theater and the message he hopes to send to his audiences.
Kathy Laluk: How did you first get interested in theater?
Darian Dauchan: I actually have been in theater since I was 10 years old, really. I was basically a class clown in school, and I just needed a lot of attention. I kind of came across acting, which was really kind of a way to harness that need I had for attention, and as a result, it helped me in a number of ways. … Once I got on stage, I got that fix that I needed. I’m originally from San Francisco. … I actually thought that I was going to go to college somewhere in the L.A. area because I was very much into films and TV, but what ended up happening was I only applied to two schools, both in the New York area: Juilliard and NYU. I thought, ‘We’ll see what happens,’ and sure enough I got into NYU. … I ended up coming to New York [City] not knowing a soul, so I was really taking a leap of faith. That’s where I really got introduced to theater. … During my training at NYU, I fell in love with the classical style of acting and theater. That’s really what drew me to theater and why I’m still doing it today.
KL: What kind of experiences have you had in the theater world?
DD: What I’ve learned most about the nature of this career is that it has its ups and downs — it’s very much a roller coaster. Something really great will happen and then there will be really low periods. When I was at NYU, I had a teacher who told me I should direct or write. When I first heard that, I was mortified and thought I might get suspended because I wasn’t good enough to make a living as an actor. It was devastating for me. But I took her advice and ended up directing a play, and the next semester I took a playwrighting class … and from there, I was able to develop my whole niche as a solo performer, which was vital for me. … When I’m not performing, or I’m in a lull period, I’m writing. … I’m a poet too, so I’m always either acting or writing or sometimes looking for inspiration for another piece. I’ve very much immersed myself in my work. The hardest thing is to stay focused because there’s nobody pushing you but you. I’m definitely a huge procrastinator, so it’s a struggle for me to push myself sometimes.
KL: Could you tell me a little bit about your play “Media Madness”?
DD: It’s basically about a rookie journalist who arrives in this fictional metropolitan area called New Hoodwink. He comes across a major story that has to do with corporate corruption, but in the midst of it all, things get in the way of him trying to tell the story. … Ultimately, his journalistic integrity is challenged. It really touches upon this idea of where media has gone and what it’s shooting [at] present to the masses, while the major stories, the important stories are just thrown away. … I play all the characters in the play — 15 in all, I think. This is the first production I’ve done of this, and it’s been a challenge. … We’re using lots of media, like projections and multiple TV screens. The show is extremely tech-heavy, but I’m really trying to focus on the development of each of the characters I play.
KL: Why did you decide to bring this play to Ithaca?
DD: Well, it’s interesting because I wrote the piece as a direct response to the 2004 presidential elections. I felt very frustrated by where the country was going at that time, and I felt that, as an artist, I needed to harness that energy. I targeted the media and looked at some of the aspects of the media that led to the outcome [of the election]. I’m feeling like with another presidential election coming up now, there’s a sense of urgency to doing this show now. … This is a very contemporary piece for me. The timing really works out well for me, and I’d love to put this show on as many times as possible before the 2008 election.
KL: What do you hope your audiences will take away from your performance?
DD: Really what I’m hoping is to engage people in a creative dialogue. … I don’t want to beat anyone over the head, but I want them to discuss the issues addressed. … If the story’s good and it’s engaging, then I’ve done my job.
“Media Madness” will be performed at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Kitchen Theatre, 116 N. Cayuga St. Tickets are $16 and can be ordered by calling 273-4497 or by visiting www.kitchentheatre.org