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BWW Spotlight Series: Meet Daniel Durant, a Multi-Talented ASL Actor with Deaf West Theatre

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BWW Spotlight Series: Meet Daniel Durant, a Multi-Talented ASL Actor with Deaf West TheatreWith the current theatre world on hiatus, I have created a Spotlight Series on Broadway World which features interviews with some of the many talented artists who make our Los Angeles theatre community so exciting and vibrant thanks to their ongoing contribution to keeping the Arts alive in the City of the Angels. And just like all of us, I wondered how they are dealing with the abrupt end of productions in which they were involved.

This Spotlight focuses on Daniel Durant, a multi-talented American Sign Language (ASL) actor whose impressive performance in Spring Awakening with Deaf West Theatre took him all the way to Broadway! As a Deaf actor who performs using ASL, how is he keeping creative while waiting to get back onstage?

Shari Barrett (SB): What would you like readers to know about your theatrical background?

BWW Spotlight Series: Meet Daniel Durant, a Multi-Talented ASL Actor with Deaf West TheatreDaniel Durant (Daniel): My very first play was when I was 9 years old in Duluth, MN, where I grew up. After that experience, I loved to join all the plays in school in both middle school and high school. After graduating from high school in 2008, I was in my first professional play in 2012. The show was Cyrano written by Stephen Sachs, directed by Simon Levy, a co-production of Deaf West Theatre and The Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles. I went on to play Charlie in Flowers for Algernon for Deaf West. BWW Spotlight Series: Meet Daniel Durant, a Multi-Talented ASL Actor with Deaf West TheatreBecause of the work I did in a workshop of Spring Awakening, I got the role of Moritz. This show went from a 99-seat production to a much larger venue: the Wallis Annenberg Center in Beverly Hills - and then all the way to Broadway.

(SB): I reviewed Deaf West's productions of Flowers for Algernon at the Whitefire Theatre in 2013 and Spring Awakening at The Wallis in 2015. I knew that astounding production deserved to be taken to Broadway, and I was especially pleased when Ali Stroker won the Tony Award for her wheelchair-bound performance. I certainly remember your hormone-fueled, often comical performance as Moritz in the production

BWW Spotlight Series: Meet Daniel Durant, a Multi-Talented ASL Actor with Deaf West TheatreHere's the link to my review of your remarkable performance as Charlie in Deaf West Theatre's Flowers for Algernon in 2013. /los-angeles/article/BWW-Reviews-In-FLOWERS-FOR-ALGERNON-Deaf-West-Theatre-Weaves-American-Sign-Language-With-Spoken-English-20131011

(Daniel): I was also featured as Matthew, BWW Spotlight Series: Meet Daniel Durant, a Multi-Talented ASL Actor with Deaf West Theatrea deaf character during Seasons 2-5 of the ABC Family series Switched at Birth.

(SB): What production(s) were you involved with when word went out it needed to immediately be either postponed or cancelled?

(Daniel): I was thrilled to be playing the title role, Orpheus, in the production Orphée with Deaf West Theatre, in Los Angeles.

(SB): I had my tickets for Orphée, which unfortunately closed before I could see it. How was the shutdown communicated with the cast and production team?

BWW Spotlight Series: Meet Daniel Durant, a Multi-Talented ASL Actor with Deaf West Theatre(Daniel): Deaf West artistic director David Kurs informed us before a rehearsal that we might have to postpone or cancel our show due to COVID-19. It hit us all, cast and crew, hard because we had worked so diligently for months to be ready for opening night. We were lucky enough to be allowed to have a limited opening night with a maximum of 50 audience members. We were thrilled to have this opportunity even though it was bittersweet, as our opening night was also our closing night, as it turned out. Our show was also filmed to preserve it for history, and we are hoping the director and Deaf West will find a way to release it online. I'm crossing my fingers for that!

(SB): Are plans in place to present the staged production at a future date, or is the cancellation permanent?

BWW Spotlight Series: Meet Daniel Durant, a Multi-Talented ASL Actor with Deaf West Theatre(Daniel): I have no idea. We were supposed to take Orphée to Tokyo for a Deaf theater festival in April, but that was canceled too, of course, as it was not safe to travel to Japan. aybe we will have the opportunity to attend the festival when the world can get COVID-19 gone or under control.

(SB): What future productions on your schedule are also affected by the shutdown?

(Daniel): I'm currently in audition mode and am hoping things will start to happen in our industry soon. I am working at thinking positive and staying healthy until then.

(SB): How are you keeping the Arts alive while at home by using social media or other online sites?

BWW Spotlight Series: Meet Daniel Durant, a Multi-Talented ASL Actor with Deaf West Theatre(Daniel): Staying creative. Keeping in touch with artists to catch up with them. I did some work with Deaf Broadway for Les Miserables, as Enjloras, when we did the show on Zoom together. It's fun, and helps us keep creative and connect with other Deaf talent that I've not worked with before, so that's been great way to meet new people.

(SB): What thoughts would you like to share with the rest of the L.A. Theatre community while we are all leaving the Ghostlight on and promising to return back to the stage soon?

BWW Spotlight Series: Meet Daniel Durant, a Multi-Talented ASL Actor with Deaf West Theatre(Daniel): I know this is hard for us all, but remember you are not alone. I know that I am not alone, all of us are together and we can do this. Just never stop being creative and think positive until COVID-19 is gone or under control so we all be together again creating our art and following our dreams!

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