Danny Gavigan can currently be seen through this weekend as Rupert in NSFW at Round House Theatre. His previous Round House Theatre credits include How to Write a New Book for the Bible, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, Double Indemnity and Pride and Prejudice. You may have seen Danny in many in productions all over town at such theatres as Theater J, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Constellation Theatre Company, Keegan Theatre, Longacre Lea and Roarschach. He is a company member of the Hub Theatre and Everyman Theatre Company where he was most recently seen in Ghosts. Other local theatre credits include The Rivals and Snow Falling on Cedars at Center Stage. Regional credits include a co-production of Peer Gynt at La Jolla Playhouse and Kansas City Rep.
As you can see, Danny is one of our most versatile performers. He can go from a light film noir piece like Double Indemnity and then play more intense with a show like The Admission. With NSFW Danny’s comedic side is in full gear. You have a few more chances this weekend to catch Danny and a wonderful group of actors in NSFW. It’s well worth a look and Danny’s performance is a major reason why.
Are you originally from the DC/Baltimore area and what was your first professional performing job at one of our local theatres?
Yes, I was born in Towson and grew up in St. Michaels and Columbia, Maryland. My very first professional gig was with Maryland Shakespeare Festival in The Two Gentlemen of Verona with an amazing cast of young actors fresh out of college including Chris Dinolfo (Round House’s Next Fall) and Betsy Rosen (Round House’s A Prayer for Owen Meany). They told me about this incredible opportunity at a cattle call audition that the League of Washington Theaters was hosting in Bethesda, of all places, at Round House Theatre, so that opened a lot of professional doors for me.
The topic that NSFW covers is one that I don’t think has been explored onstage before. Can you please talk about how playwright Lucy Kirkwood tackles the topic of exploitation in the adult entertainment industry and also something about the character you play in the show?
She does it with a sort of satirical realism. The absurd superficial and hypersexualised exploitation of women we’ve come to accept as the norm from media are front and center so that all of the participants, whether male or female or whether on stage or in the audience, are culpable of perpetuating those values. As absurd as those values are, her accurate portrayal of them in a dryly comical way makes you laugh as well as recognize how it’s all too real and very much woven into our subconscious as a society.
There are characters in this play that are coming out of university into the job market desperate for employment and working class characters collecting unemployment, who at points of the play find their moral high ground and need to make ends meet in direct conflict with one another. The climate of desperation be it through unemployment or a fledgling print industry is, I think, a brilliant stroke by Lucy Kirkwooand plays into the question of whether it really is just the “market” that is dictating this content in the media or other more complex social issues
My character, Rupert, is a bit of an upper class brat who writes for a men’s magazine that’s hellbent on giving unrealistic impressions of women to young men. While others are just trying to keep their jobs, Rupert’s desperation stems from wanting so badly to assimilate into the working class hipster culture and surviving his boss’ sadistic life threatening assignments for a column in the magazine called “Man Challenges” where he’ll go on extreme diets or be sleep deprived for weeks on end. So exploitation comes in all shapes and sizes. I love how Kirkwood has the audience at once condemning the exploitation of women yet uproariously celebrating the delight that’s derived from exploiting a misogynist trust fund brat in a different way.
I’ve seen you play a bunch of dramatic roles in such shows as Really Really at Signature Theatre and The Admission at Theater J. NSFW is lighter in tone than those two shows were. Do you prefer playing comedy over drama or are both dramatic forms equally as enjoyable and satisfying?
With anything in life it’s really all about the balance for me. I find myself coming off a show like Ibsen’s Ghosts up at Everyman in Baltimore where I’m juggling the emotional complexities of coming to terms with my own death 8 times a week eagerly counting the days down before I get to jump into rehearsals for NSFW and make breast jokes. As soon as NSFW comes to a close I’ll be looking forward to something dramatic, I’m sure. I truly appreciate one because of the other. You can’t appreciate breast jokes without death, right? Or is it the other way around?
You are a resident company member of Everyman Theatre in Baltimore. With fewer and fewer theatres having a repertory acting company and opting to hire show by show, what are some of your favorite things about working at Everyman Theatre?
Job security as a stage actor. Not having to audition. Feeling like a local celebrity. Feeling valued and wholeheartedly supported as an artist. One of my favorite things at Everyman is our high school matinée program where students from across the city come to see each show in our season and we as actors get to visit them in class and discuss the show and theater as an art form. I’m seeing the same kids each show, each year, and getting to participate in their formative years and discuss heavy issues these plays can open up for them, so there’s a real sense of community in that.
Also a sense of family, not only with the other actors in the company, but with everyone in that building from Vinny the artistic director to Shammah the porter. And all the ups and downs, growing pains, accomplishments, rivalries, and pride that come with being a family. The list is endless and I could certainly go on but I recognize how rare and fortunate this is for the life of any actor especially in this area so I don’t want to gloat. I think humility and gratitude is something I’m faced with everyday I walk into Everyman and I see our oversized headshots hanging from the wall, but also when I start another process with actors that aren’t in the company but are really as much of the family if not more than I am. In the end it’s made me realize and appreciate that theater is a collaborative family wherever you make it and all the resentment or angst or worries of feeling excluded when all is said and done were just that, worries.
What is next for you after NSFW closes?
I will be playing Stanley Kowalski and Happy Loman in Everyman Theatre’s Great American Rep of Streetcar Named Desire and Death of a Salesman next spring.