Editor’s note: Right? was renamed The Real Americans after the original broadcast of this story.
San Francisco writer, performer and playwright Dan Hoyle set off in a Ford E-150 conversion van on a three-month-long summer journey into America’s heartland to discover just what — and who — lies between the liberal-leaning cultures of the East and West coasts. Hoyle, a Fulbright scholar and son of well-known Bay Area circus performer Geoff Hoyle, shares with Spark what he found during his rambling adventure across some 20 states. Hoyle’s travels through countless small towns and the people he met along the way inspired the solo show Right?, a humorous and thought-provoking window into American lives lived far outside the big city.
Using his talent for capturing the language and mannerisms of real people and translating their personas into vignettes for the stage, Hoyle’s latest effort features a host of characters drawn from personalities encountered along his journey, first transmitted to the reading public through Beyond the Bubble, a series of articles for the San Francisco Chronicle and Salon.com. Among these characters are an enthusiastic Arizona gun show vendor and a Nebraska businessman with allegiances to the Aryan Brotherhood.
Instead of shying away from stereotypes and painting a picture of a cohesive America, Hoyle’s show raises questions for audiences living within the liberal bubble covering much of the nation’s outermost flanks.
“I’m throwing myself open to accusations that I’m poking fun at people, I’m judging people. … I think what I’m trying to do with this show is, first of all, to just show people some of what it’s like and to do it in a detailed and nuanced way. The other thing is, I’m trying to ask, ‘So what does it mean for us to all be a part of this country?'” says Hoyle.
Right?, which premiered at the February 2009 GAP Festival at Aurora Theatre Company, is not Hoyle’s first solo performance. His one-person show about Nigerian culture and politics, Tings Dey Happen, won the 2007 Will Glickman Award for Best New Play and was nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Solo Show. His other shows include Circumnavigator and Florida 2004: The Big Bummer. Hoyle is the recipient of a Fulbright scholarship to explore politics and oil in Nigeria, and he is a teacher at the San Francisco School of the Arts through the artist-in-residence program.