Athens Banner-Herald Newspaper
3 May 2004
University of Georgia MFA student Dan Guyton rehearses
scenes from his play "A Friend to All the Little Guys" in the
Fine Arts building. Guyton recently won first place for
a one-act play entitled "Attic" in the American College
Local playwright wins one-act competition
By Wayne Ford
Dan Guyton seemed relaxed enough. But everyone has a dark side. It's just that Guyton
reaches into the cryptic murk of his mind and puts it on stage for anyone to see.
''I'm a friendly guy, but a lot of times when I write, I tap into these emotions,'' he said. And his
creativity simmered when he wrote what he frankly admits is a ''disturbing'' play.
But ''Attic'' has proven to have an audience appeal. Recently, the play took first place in the
one-act play competition at the annual American College Theatre Festival held in
''It's done in a very metaphysical way. I wasn't trying to be like schlock, but emotionally horrific
on a gut level,'' said Guyton, who last week finished his master's degree from the University of
The winning play deals with a young man 18 to 20 years old, who is released from a mental
institute. He was institutionalized for trying to murder his family. Then he tries to take his own
life. As the play progresses, the family comes to believe he isn't healed, creating tension.
The play is impressionistic, Guyton said, as much of the perspective is from the main
character's mind. And a lot of the dialogue is in verse, darkly written as if influenced by Edgar
In fact, the play was born as a poem in late 2001 after Sept. 11. Fed by Guyton's loneliness
from just moving to the new surroundings and people of Athens and the horror stories
emerging from New York, a story began to form.
''The more I wrote it, the more I knew I didn't want it to be about me, but another character.
And it slowly turned into this kid.''
The play received rave reviews at the festival in Alabama, but this isn't the first time Guyton
has won a competition for college playwrights. This was his third year entering this
competition, and two years ago, he won first place for a one-act play he took to a competition
in New York. ''Where Is Julie'' was later developed into a full-length piece and performed
Stanley Longman, director of the UGA Department of Drama and Theatre, said Guyton ''has
a knack for developing dialogue for characters that's a little weird and engaging. And he is
also an extremely good director.''
''He's also highly motivated and goes after things,'' he said.
Guyton's prize for winning the competition is that the university will host a production of ''Attic''
this summer or fall.
Now that he is winding up his life in Athens, Guyton said he's mapping his path for a future
job, one he expects will lead him first to New York where he will try teaching and playwriting.
One day, he wants to move into film.
Dan Guyton rehearses scenes from the play with Matt Suber,
left, and Tom Smith.
Guyton grew up on Long Island, N.Y., in a town called Farmingville. He graduated State
University of New York at Albany with double majors in theater and English.
''I've always wanted to get into film. As a young kid I used to go to the movies all the time. I
also wrote poetry and short stories, so I when I went off to college, my goal was to be a
writer,'' he said. In college, there was no film program, so he took theater classes.
His first theatrical role was as a boyfriend for the lead actress in the play ''Isn't It Romantic.''
By the time he was a senior in college, he felt his career moving toward the stage.
''I was graduating, but I felt like I was just really getting started on my education. So I really
wanted to go to grad school,'' he said.
He applied with the United Regional Theater Association, which works with universities and
colleges looking for graduate students in theater. He then was contacted by four colleges,
among them the University of Illinois and University of Southern California. He met a college
representative and learned UGA was looking for a playwright. UGA offered him a full
assistantship, which also would give him teaching experience.
He arrived in Athens in the late summer 2001.
Now, with a master's degree in hand, Guyton said he plans to move back to New York where
a friend wants to start an acting troupe.
''Part of what I like about being a writer and an actor is it gives me more diversity and
options,'' he said.
''I still want to get into the movies. I still want to do that,'' he said. ''But I'm trying to build up a
name as a theater artist. If I do that, then maybe people will take me more seriously in the film