After his production Tings Dey Happen, on life in oil drilling towns of Nigeria, Dan Hoyle wanted to investigate closer to home. He spent three months driving across our country, attempting to find the true meaning of America and what it means to be American. “I was tired of ‘what’s the matter with America,’ I wanted to know what’s right about America.”
Part of Dan’s inspiration for The Real Americans came from his desire to create a production combining politics with conservative characters. He stopped in a variety of towns in 20 states that were primarily politically and socially conservative. He wanted to hear first-hand about the actual experiences of the citizens in these states by engaging them in conversations on religion and politics.
“I went there, talked to people, and we didn’t make sense to each other. I went in with the idea that it is the heart of America, but you go there and so many towns are dying and busted. People are close-minded, and I don’t know if this is the America that I really love. That was shocking.”
The early stages of developing his solo pieces took place in front of a mirror, with that mirror being Dan’s audience. During this process for The Real Americans, Dan created over 20 characters with 10-minute monologues for each of them. Then he began narrowing down which characters to share with audiences. Many of the characters portrayed are the types of individuals an audience wouldn’t often see onstage, which provided a challenge. “People might get offended, people might find it hilarious. It’s strange, I’ve never felt quite so unsure of how audiences would react.”
Dan Hoyle in The Real Americans at Portland Center Stage. Photo by Patrick Weishampel
Dan felt that the purpose of his performance would be to show what life is like for his characters, as well as ask the question “what does it mean to be a part of this country?”
I had the time of my life meeting my fellow-countrymen from different walks of life, and I think more people should do that. There is hope and redemption and solidarity in meeting your fellow brothers and sisters even if you don’t agree on a lot.
Join Dan on his travels through America’s heartland as The Real Americans takes the stage April 27 through May 1.
Click here for tickets or call our Box Office at 919.962.7529.