Dan Via is the playwright and actor starring in Daddy, a new play about gay relationships, currently running at TBG Arts Center’s Mainstage Theatre through Februrary 13. I was able to get the inside scoop from this handsome writer, who is currently based in Park Slope, as the show was kicking off.
Queerespondence: What brought you to Brooklyn?
Dan Via: I moved to New York from DC about five years ago. I relocated to pursue my acting career and I’ll confess I wasn’t convinced I’d actually like living here. I’d really only ever been to Manhattan, which had always struck me as too overwhelming and chaotic to feel like “home.” So I was greatly relieved when I discovered all that Brooklyn has to offer (which I’m still in the process of discovering). It’s definitely the right place for me in terms of its scale and sense of community.
Queerespondence: Where have you drawn inspiration for Daddy? Is any of the material based on your real experience?
Dan Via: It really just started with me wondering: “What’s up with the whole ‘daddy’ phenomenon in the gay community?” I still can’t say I have an answer to that on a macro level, but that questioning led to a story idea. And although the specifics of the story are entirely invented, as I was writing, I discovered that I could draw on many of my own experiences and those of people I know to flesh out the characters and the situations in a way that felt organic and truthful.
Queerespondence: What is playing Stew like? Does it become tedious, or do you enjoy cross examining yourself?
Dan Via: Stew and I do share some of the same foibles in terms of how we interact with the world. And there may be some element of wish fulfillment, because I think Stew ultimately has more success in evolving and adapting than I have achieved (so far).
Queerespondence: With recent rejections of gay marriage on the state level, is this a crucial moment to explore relationships within the gay community on stage? And if so, why?
Dan Via: To be honest, my play is less about making a statement on this moment in time than it is the story of one man’s (the character of Colin) response to it. Colin is someone who grew up believing that the traditional notion of a nuclear family – which he values – wasn’t available to him, so to have gay marriage and gay parenting suddenly seem like viable options leads him to question his past choices. He’s created this alterna-coupling with his best friend (Stew), but does that count as “settling” or is it a legitimate bond? As much as I believe marriage equality is an essential civil rights issue – particularly as it affects future generations – I don’t think we should discount the gay community’s resilience and creativity in creating so-called “families of choice.” But, again, my play isn’t a manifesto; it’s meant to be an entertainment.
Dadddy runs through February 13, 2010 at the TBG Arts Center.