Although he prefers theatrical works with serious themes, Dagnan ensures the process of putting them together is fun. Photo by Kat Bell
Senior BFA student Dylan Dagnan debated between majoring in theatre or mass communication before coming to college, but ultimately settled on beginning his UM career as a mass communication student.
However, Dagnan found his true calling in UM’s Theatre department after taking Intro to Theatre with Michael Walker, who thought Dagnan had a natural talent for the craft. It wasn’t long before Dagnan made the switch.
Since then, Dagnan has acted as assistant director for UM productions “The Wolves” and “Rapture, Blister, Burn” during the 2017-2018 UM theatre season. He is currently working with the department on musical “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.”
Since Dagnan didn’t consider himself an actor, he instead focused his efforts on directing, a fitting niche considering his childhood love for movies.
“I always wanted to watch adult movies like ‘The Shawshank Redemption.’ As a kid, I didn’t like animated movies, so I would watch whatever movies my brothers were watching,” said Dagnan. “There was a movie that I watched over and over again and that was ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’ with Wes Anderson.”
Aside from Anderson, Dagnan also noted that he was inspired by film director Stanley Kubrick.
Dagnan recently directed his first full-length show at Montevallo, “Seminar,” which also served as his senior project. Later in the semester, his fellow BFA senior Kassie Kouch will present her project “Quake.”
At the end of last spring, Dagnan had to pick which show to do for the project, but he was confronted with some difficulties.
“As a director, there is a list of shows that you’re going to do. I picked all of my favorite shows and none worked, either because of casting problems like size or the type of show,” said Dagnan.
Although “Seminar” was not his first choice, Dagnan learned to love it after working on a scene for class.
“I did a scene from ‘Seminar’ in my Directing I class with Robin Stevens, and it ended up the last one on the list. It’s one of my favorite plays,” said Dagnan.
“Seminar,” a Pulitzer Prize nominated play by Theresa Rebeck, is a provocative and raw dramatic comedy about four aspiring young novelists in New York City who pay for a seminar with “rock-star editor” Leonard.
These novelists include Kate, an affluent Upper-West-Side woman with a fancy apartment, and her friends: Martin, who is neurotic and private about his work; Douglas, a well-connected prep school grad; and, Izzy, a seductive opportunist.
Leonard’s unorthodox teachings lead to chaos, and friends become frenemies as some succeed while others flounder.
The cast of Dagnan’s production included freshmen Karli Blankenship as Kate and Abby Bowers as Izzy. Their male counterparts included seniors Dakota Patrick as Douglas, and Brock Schumann as Martin. Alumnus BJ Underwood returned to UM to portray Leonard.
“When it comes to what makes a great production, my main thing is that I don’t care what the audience says, because they’ll react the way they react, but I really do care about what’s going on with the actors,” said Dagnan. “Are they having fun? Are they enjoying themselves? I like to do serious stuff, so I try to have fun.”
The rich intensity that the cast portrayed took Rebeck’s witty work to a new level under Dagnan’s direction, but he credits the success to the team behind him.
“I was so stressed beforehand, but then I got my stage manager and I saw the cast,” said Dagnan. “After the first rehearsal, I wasn’t so unnervingly stressed. I had such a great team. My stage manager, Jenna Goodson, was amazing.”
The show was performed Feb. 21 to 24 in Reynolds Hall.
When it comes to words of wisdom, Dagnan had this to say to fellow and aspiring directors: “Just do it. If you have an idea, write it out. Get some friends and put it on.”