BWW Interviews: Actor and Director Gregg T. Daniel Talks About ELMINA'S KITCHEN at LDTE
Gregg T. Daniel has a diversified and well-known career as stage director/actor and television/film actor. His stage direction includes 2009's critically-acclaimed production of Tom Stoppard's Heroes at the Group rep and Sybyl Walker's Beneath Rippling Waters presented by the Company of Angels @ the Fremont Center in Pasadena in 2006. More recently he helmed Group rep's critically acclaimed Cobb.
In this chat, conducted by guest interviewer Steve Peterson, Daniel discusses his latest directorial work Elmina's Kitchen for Lower Depth Theatre Ensemble (LDTE), opening August 11 at the Lost Studio on La Brea in Hollywood.
What have you been up to recently?
Most recently, I performed in a production of August Wilson’s Jitney at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa. The production transferred in its entirety to the Pasadena Playhouse for another month long run. Prior to that, I directed a critically acclaimed production of playwright Lee Blessing’s Cobb for the Group Repertory Theatre. I’ve also been a visiting Guest Director at USC’s School of Theatre. I’m returning to the school in early October to begin rehearsals with the undergraduate class on Flyin West by Pearl Cleage.
How did Elmina's Kitchen come to your attention?
Earlier this year, I was invited to take part in a presentation at USC titled “Voices from the Black Diaspora.” We presented selected staged scenes from three international playwrights. One of the plays was Elmina's Kitchen by British playwright, Kwame Kwei-Armah. I was exhilarated by the two scenes we read from his play. The next day, I ordered a copy of the play from Amazon. After reading it, I knew our company had found its next production.
LDTE's first production, Three Sisters After Chekov, was well received. You directed the play, and the other founding members were in the play. With Elmina's Kitchen you are directing, but the other company members are not in the production. How did that weigh in LDTE's decision to choose this play?
While I was convinced Elmina’s Kitchen was artistically right for our company, I recognized none of the six roles in the play suited the company’s founding members. This situation presented us with an interesting dilemma. Does LDTE only mount plays which has roles for its core members? It was a difficult choice to make but in the end, the decision was unanimous. Every one of our members felt we needed to mount this work. The compelling nature of the piece made it a story we wanted to tell.
Don hails from Holyoke, Massachusetts and holds two Masters Degrees from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in Education and Bilingual Studies. He is a teacher of foreign language and ESL.
Don is in his fifth year with BWW, currently serving as Senior Editor of the Los Angeles Page.
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