Theatre and Performance

Directing, Devising, Dramaturgy, and Acting

Unpacking Longview

Written and performed by Dr. Elizabeth Melton, Unpacking Longview is a monodrama based on ethnographic research into the racial desegregation of public schools in Longview, Texas during the 1960s and 70s. The play frames the verbatim performance of interviews within a personal narrative of familial loss while offering important contextual information and comedic relief through an embellished “everything is bigger in Texas” alter-ego figure. In addition to the show’s premiere at the University of North Carolina in 2016, Daniel directed a revised version performed in Longview at the community’s performing arts center in 2017as well as other iterations of the play at various schools and churches between 2019 and 2021, including a version adapted for an online format that was presented during the pandemic.

Utopia Machine

In March 2018, Dilliplane produced Utopia Machine for the performance season of the University of North Carolina’s Communication Department. This interactive and site-specific devised performance was based on research regarding the manipulation of our emotions by social media’s content algorithms. The show transformed not just the stage but the entire building into a entertainment “machine” that directed the audience's hopes for the future toward an imaginary political savior. Mirroring digital filter bubbles, the performance divided the audience into four distinct groups with unique pathways through the show. Through the use of detailed projections and by engaging the bodies of the audience in the “production” process of the utopia machine, this multimedia performance troubled the distinction between fiction and reality and blurred the line between the elusive digital world and the material embodiment of the “real.”

A # @ the Door

An experimental ensemble drama exploring the navigation of unstable identity under racial capitalism, A # @ the Door [a pound at the door] was written by Benjamin Clancy and directed by Dilliplane as part of the University of North Carolina’s Swain Studio Six Performance Series in April 2018. By continuously “reprogramming” the diverse cast into different characters, the play confronted both actors and audience with the compulsory performance of racial and gender roles as well as unexpected inversions and rearticulations of these roles. 

The Latest News From the Primordial Ooze

As part of Fury Theatre’s short plays festival Short Attention Span Theatre in 2012, Daniel directed Rich Orloff’s The Latest News From the Primordial Ooze, a comedic yet poignant play about a crisis in the relationship between two swamp creatures upon the discovery that one of them has evolved fingers instead of fins. Theatre critic for the Chicago Reader Jack Helbig highlighted this play as a bright spot in the festival, citing its “sharp direction.” 

Pierrot and Moon

To direct Pierrot and Moon, an adaptation of Albert Giraud’s 1884 poem cycle Pierrot lunaire, Dilliplane drew extensively upon the Commedia Dell’Arte performance tradition, especially the gestural and sartorial styles of the discerning trickster Harlequin and Pierrot the melancholic clown. In addition to working closely with designers to construct the ethereal atmosphere of the piece, he extensively coached the actors to capture the affect of the highly-stylized movements of the characters as well as to cultivate a potent appreciation for the tragic contradiction between the genuine naiveté of Pierrot’s deep adoration for the moon and the moon’s callousness ambivalence in response. 

Frege In Space

Drawing inspiration from the aesthetic style of the Theatre of Image—especially the works of Robert Wilson, Richard Foreman, and Mabou Mines—Dilliplane’s thesis production Frege In Space paired his interest in the limits of analytic philosophy with avant-garde aesthetics. Exploring the life and work of one of the founders of analytic philosophy Prussian philosopher and mathematician Gottlob Frege, this play juxtaposed elements of his personal and professional biography with abstract performance experiments representing the paradoxes underlying his theoretical contributions to linguistics and the foundations of logic. This production was Daniel’s first major foray into the use of devising techniques as a means of generating theatrical work. 

Tom in the Machine

As dramaturg for Orange Grove Dance's original dance-theatre production "Tom in the Machine," Daniel collaborated closely with writer-choreographer Matt Reeves to explore parallels between John Steinbeck's classic novel The Grapes of Wrath and the challenges faced by the modern American worker.

For and On Behalf Of

As an ensemble member in Allan Davis's lecture-performance about the Mormon practice of posthumous baptism "For and On Behalf Of," Dilliplane worked closely with choreographer Christina Banalopoulou to create movements that encapsulate the ritualistic quality of the rite.

The Mesophase

As a member of the ensemble cast of the dance-theatre performance "The Mesophase: Moving Through Climate Change," Daniel drew on his training in Laban/Bartenieff movement studies. 

An Experiment

In 2015, Dilliplane played the role of Scott in the premiere of Jennifer Barclay's new play "An Experiment," presented by the University of Maryland's School of Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies. 

Fall of the House

Daniel was the stage manager for the third season of Action/Adventure Theatre's serialized, semi-scripted, live performance drama about a group of young professionals living in Portland in the late '00s.

Fearless Fables

As part of the University of Maryland's celebration of "Maryland Day" in April 2015, Dilliplane performed instructional fables alongside his fellow ensemble members for children and parents of the local community.