Calgarian playwright’s latest play debuts in New York City this May
For over 30 years, Daniel Libman has been a contributing factor to Calgary’s theatre and acting community. Not only does he have many on screen acting roles, but Libman is also a playwright with over 50 titles to his credit.
Now Libman’s latest play, Intermission, is preparing to open this May in New York City.
“I’m excited to see my play debut off-Broadway,” Libman said. “I think I might be the first writer based in Calgary to have a play debut there.”
The play is directed by Voyage Theatre Company founder, Wayne Maugans.
“His plays have a lot of heart,” Maugans said. “He understands theatre at every level.”
The play features four people in the lobby of a theatre, who discover that the play they went to see has more to do with their lives then they could ever imagine.
“The play has some really great art,” Maugans said. “It starts out as a comedy, then it lands somewhere in the genre of tragedy, and turns again to become something hopeful.
“It wouldn’t be a Dan Libman play if there weren’t any hope or optimism,” Maugans added.
Born in Montreal, Libman received his first professional acting role in the early ’70s at the age of 15. He then trained at Dawson College, the University of Alberta and the Young Company under English actor and director, Michael Langham.
Libman migrated to Calgary in 1982 after his wife landed a job here. Two years later, Libman’s first play, Closing Time, was produced. The play was based on one of his experiences as a teen in Montreal while working at a printing press.
After receiving a Tyrone Guthrie Award, which is designed to help further writer and thespian recognition, Libman returned to Calgary to write a new draft. This draft was submitted to the Alberta Culture Playwriting Competition, and it won.
Libman and director Maugans met each other in 2000, after Libman translated a play that Maugans would be in.
In 2006, Libman debuted his most successful play to date, Cecil and Cleopaytra. It is a story of a former acting coach trying to rekindle interest in his life, and who sees his nurse as his next protégé. The production was showcased off-Broadway in New York City.
Three years ago, Maugans opened the Voyage Theatre Company in New York City, and the two wound up working on bringing Libman’s play, Intermission, to reality. First, they prepared a reading in November 2012 in New York to test audiences before it went into production.
“They really liked the play when it was read,” Libman said. “That’s when the green lights started flickering.”
After seeing the reading himself, Maugans knew it would be good enough for production.
“People were laughing and some were crying by the end of it, just for a reading,” Maugans said. “That’s when we knew we were on to something.”
Aside from playwriting, Libman has also immersed himself in mentoring and teaching younger actors. For Libman, who comes from a family with acting experience, this was a passion that began in 1978.
Currently, he manages and teaches at the Calgary Acting Studio. His students range from young, aspiring thespians, to skilled actors looking to hone in on their skills, to the former high-school theatre actors looking to revive their performing heritage.
Chris Heatherington, a current student of Libman’s, has been impressed with what Libman can do and produce.
“He’s a multi-talented guy,” Heatherington said. “It’s interesting to see how many people he teaches go on to receive auditions and roles.”
Over the years, Libman has not only taught in Canada, but also in Chicago, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and New York City.
Jenny Saarinen, another one of Libman’s pupils, has been with the acting studio since 2012, going from the introductory classes all the way to the advanced acting classes.
“He makes you push the envelope,” Saarinen, a mother of two, said of Libman. “I’m interested in seeing all the shy and timid people walk into his class. Yet in the end, all these people show up and project themselves.”
Libman has also appeared in 30 on-screen acting roles. He’s appeared alongside Jon Voight in September Dawn, and has had guest appearances on CBC’s Heartland and Tom Stone.
Intermission will premiere in New York City on May 3, 2014 at the Clurman Theatre.