Struts & Frets: Interviews with the Cast & Crew of Love's Labour's Lost - Dayle Towarnicky

One part director, one part actor, three parts voice and speech teacher: all awesome. Dayle Towarnicky is a lady of many talents, and she's brought something from each of those skill sets to tackle Love's Labour's Lost, a comedy full of jokes in Latin, archaic puns, and lots and lots of bad poetry. 

How do you make a show like this accessible to a modern audience? Well, for Dayle and Hamlet Isn't Dead, you throw in a smattering of 90s music, the best cast you can find, and it helps if you know the show inside-out.

This is a photo of Dayle in a previous production,
but also just how she presents herself on a daily basis.

HID: We asked all the actors, so we didn’t want you to feel left out: What’s your favorite color and why?

DT: BLUE - blue is my favorite color. Always has been, always will be. I don't really know why, because I was drawn to it before I knew that colors had names, but I think part of the reason was because my blue eyes were super blue as a baby, and people commented on them all the time, so I think I was potentially indoctrinated into the cult of blueness by random strangers who coo over babies. 

HID: What was it about Love’s Labour’s Lost that first made you want to direct it?

DT: Love's Labour's Lost is my first real directing project (fake directing projects include a one-act play in middle school, and a 48-hour film submission which I forced a bunch of guys to "let me direct" ....). So really, I think the heftier question is "what made me want to direct?" period.

         A lot of things led me in this 'direction' (yes bad puns). I had been assistant directing/text coaching our Henry VI cycle and thought to myself, "Hey - you know what? I could do this, I could!" - which was a big step for me because I had felt for a long time that I wasn't director material. I thought that because I never could envision a concept of a play. But last summer, I had been teaching for nearly two years, and was assistant directing and somehow realized that I was the little engine that could... and I thought to myself - a concept doesn't actually have to be fully formed in order to be created. I 'm gonna quote Anne Bogart here-

"Do not assume that you have to have some prescribed conditions to do your best work. Do not wait. Do not wait for enough time or money to accomplish what you think you have in mind. Do not wait for what you assume is the appropriate, stress-free environment. Do not wait for maturity or insight or wisdom. Do not wait until you are sure you know what you are doing. Do not wait until you have enough technique. What you do now will determine the the quality and scope of your future endeavors."

        And I decided not to wait! And Shakespeare was most likely my age when he wrote LLL - so I feel a connection to it as a play. The things that happen to the characters feel like things that have happened to me and my friends - love at first sight, ridiculous courtship, love triangles and bittersweet loss. All of which is peppered with word play and sex jokes.

        So basically LLL was for me a right time, right place moment - I felt the urge to try directing, it was coming up soon in the Shakespeare canon (which is important because at Hamlet Isn't Dead we're producing the plays in the *possible* order that they were written), and it was a a play I loved. So I thought... why not!? 


HID: The soundtrack for the play has been supplemented with hits from the 1990s. Care to discuss where that initial decision came from, and how you chose the specific songs?

DT: That previous moment, in which I thought "Why not!?" happened to arrive while I was on the N train listening to "Time" by Hootie and the Blowfish. Somehow those two moments became linked for me, and I envisioned the music that I love from the 90s filtering through the show. So as the concept developed and changed over time, I continued to link in music from that era (era? is that even appropriate for only 20s years ago??). Choosing the songs went basically like this "I LOVE THESE SONGS. WE'LL USE THESE SONGS."

        I've been listening to 86% 90s music on Pandora since last August, refreshing my memory and reconnecting to songs even I had forgotten! What cracks me up is that most people in the cast know all the songs, and yet no one knows the titles, and often not the artists. Like "Two Princes" by Spin Doctors. Can you sing that off the top of your head?? But I bet you if you google it, you'll have the "ah-ha!" moment and start singing a long. (Also, side note, until this year I thought they were saying "Princess" not "Princes" ..... oops.)

HID: How is this Love’s Labour’s Lost different from other productions people might have seen?

DT:  I think our LLL is different because Hamlet Isn't Dead has a unique approach and style. And while I'm directing, I have directed specifically with that Hamlet Isn't Dead style in mind. So this LLL is irreverent, bold, outrageous, and endearing - because that's what HIDiots are! Other things that are different include setting the play in the round - I've seen the play five times myself, and previously been in it, and I've never seen a production in the round before! It's HID's third "in the round" show (preceded by Taming of the Shrew and Henry VI part 3) and it's a style we love to do!

        Also, something that's different for HID is that there was a focus during casting to have more diversity in the company. I want to see plays that represent the community I live in - and my community (New York City!!) is diverse. So I want to see that on-stage as well.  Our cast includes people from three different continents, all over the country, and different cultures. I was thrilled with the cast that we compiled - not only have we increased diversity in respect to all of our previous shows, but they are FABULOUSLY talented. Just... whoa. Directing has been a joy. I think LLL is a great show to explore colorblind casting because love can strike any of us at any moment and bring us together with people we wouldn't have anticipated. However, I won't go so far as to say #Lovewins .... (partially because I hate hashtags most of the time) - but also, because let's face it.... Love's... Labour's.... LOST.... 

HID: Anything else we need to know about you or the show itself?

DT: I played Rosaline in a production of LLL at the Columbus Civic Theatre in Ohio in 2010, directed by Ben Gorman. The cast also included my best friend Megan Mahaffey (née McSweeney) as Maria. I am proud to say that Megan is my Assistant Director for this production, keeping me sane and remembering all the things I've undoubtedly forgotten! It's so exciting to be creating work and art with Megan and her hubby Josh (Moth) - both of whom attended a performing arts high school with me. We're part of a group of best friends and artists that came out of that '06 class and I'm overjoyed to have their support on my first directing project!! We've been going strong for 11 years and who knows what we'll be up to in the future :D
Hopefully still dressing like this.

 The stage is set, the lights are hung, and Dayle's ready to stand in the back and silently judge the audience's every reaction (or lack thereof). Come give her something to judge at Hamlet Isn't Dead's Love's Labour's Lost!
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