Thursday, March 21, 2019
‘Border People’ Examines the Borders We Cross and the Ones We Don’t
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Tuesday, March 5, 2019
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

Dan Hoyle does what’s called “journalistic theater.”

He researches a subject, conducting dozens of interviews. Then he shares what he’s learned in a one-man show featuring characters he’s constructed out of his interviews.

He took the political pulse of Americans as he hit the road in a beat-up Ford Van, interviewing Alabama NASCAR fans and others on both sides of the nation’s red/blue divide.

He spent 10 months in oil-rich Nigerian Delta, a place rife with tribal wars, industrial sabotage and kidnapping, as a Fulbright scholar. And he came up with 20 characters, including Nigerian warlords, prostitutes, snipers, ex-pats and bush people.

And on Friday he will become the mouthpiece for border people along the United States’ Mexican and Canadian borders at the Argyros Performing Arts Center in Ketchum.

“Border People,” which is playing to sold-out shows at The Marsh San Francisco, starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 8. Tickets are $30 and $60, available at www.theargyros.org or by calling 208-726-7862.

“It’s a hybrid of journalism, drama and comedy with some really incredible stories,” said Hoyle, 38. “I  ask audiences to check their preconceptions at the door and try to see the border people through the border people’s own  eyes. I cast a wide lens—looking at both geographic borders and cultural borders”

Hoyle will present 11 monologues based on interviews he conducted on both of the United States’  borders.

One depicts a young man now living in Pennsylvania who grew up in war-torn Kabul. He came to the United States where he tries to fit in with his American friends by going to the prom and getting drunk.  He’s made his mark in speech and debate but for now he is focused on moving to Canada where he hopes to be reunited with his mother and sister as they flee Afghanistan.

Another portrays a Palestinian refugee—a former real estate developer in Saudi Arabia--who told him how he was persecuted for not being Muslim enough, even though he went to the mosque daily and prayed five times a day.

He moved to California, Hoyle said, where he ran into anti-Islam sentiment in the months leading up to the election.

“Now I’m running from the United States because I’m too much Muslim,” the man said.

Hoyle even ended up interviewing a border patrol officer who pulled him over on a desolate road for suspicion of trafficking.

“He was interviewing me and, as I told him what I do, I began interviewing him,” Hoyle added.

Hoyle was born on the archipelago of Malta where his father was filming Robert Altman’s “Popeye.” But he grew up a white kid in San Francisco where he developed a penchant for stepping outside his comfort zone.

As a teenager, he’d hit the streets and talk to pimps and prostitutes at Dunkin Donuts.

He majored in theater at Northwestern University in Chicago but quickly became bored doing regular plays. So, he began riding Chicago’s L train, getting off at random stops to talk to strangers. Eventually, he constructed his first solo show—about being accepted—from a series of interviews he did with African-Americans he found playing basketball.

 “Creating theater from the streets to me was more interesting,” he said. “I call it the journalism of hanging out, winning people’s trust and letting them know I want to honor their stories. I find people are excited to have their stories told.”

Hoyle wrote a comic piece titled “Florida 2004; The Big Bummer” after working on John Kerry’s presidential campaign.  He received a grant to go around a world for a piece he called “Circumnavigator.”

And his show “For Each and Every Thing” examined Americans’ obsession with smartphones and social media though soul searchers at a digital detox seminar and an IT specialist whose wife drifted when she found an old flame on Facebook.

“How do we stay human?” he asked

Hoyle’s unique take on the issues of the day has landed him on such talk shows as “Charlie Rose.”

“Mr. Hoyle is a first-rate actor and reporter,” said a critic for the New York Times

Said a reviewer for the San Francisco Chronicle: “Dan Hoyle is one of our theatrical gems.”

 “I’m just super excited to tell these stories,” said Hoyle. “And I find people have a hunger for the experience.”

 

 

 

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