An Artist Biography of Daniel Guyton
Despicable, Malicious, and Forgivable Characters
My friend Kat Reynolds is a grad student at the Savannah College of
Art & Design. For one of her assignments, she had to write an artist
bio for a "famous" artist. She chose me! Here is the awesome paper
that she wrote!!!
“Despicable, Malicious, and Forgivable Characters”
An Artist Biography of Daniel Guyton
Daniel Guyton has been commended for his great writing skills since
childhood. First, by his parents, who often joked that he might not be good at
anything else. Then by his high school, which published his writings in a
literary magazine! Last, by his college, the University of Georgia, where he
received the title of “Amazing Student” in 2004. Who knew such a cute,
talented, little writer would grow up to produce plays dissecting homophobia,
abortion, religion, and even necrophilia!? Guyton, a two-time winner of The
Kennedy Center/ACTF Short Play Competition, is a self-titled satirist whose
plays reflect Americans’ idiosyncrasies so well, that the audience cringes. He
takes risks in calling people out for their faults, and often gruesome, guilty
pleasures. Even with this finger pointing formula, he cleverly creates
characters the audience sympathizes with, and will ultimately forgive.
This well accomplished playwright has been published by lulu.com, The
Dramatic Publishing Company, Original Works Publishing, Desert Road
Publishing, and more than a few anthologies of best one-act play volumes.
His plays have been produced in California, Canada, Florida, Indiana,
Oregon, Georgia, New York City, and Iceland! As an artist with such
unconventional play topics, Guyton has earned a large following in the
American playwriting community. Perhaps the theatre going population
no longer appreciates light hearted topics as much as Broadway likes
As a child, Guyton had a speech impediment, and through the art of
writing, voiced his ideas with confidence. He began to find a safe
sounding board in the voice of other characters, and continued writing
throughout his high school and college career. He was awarded often
for great writing skills, so he continued crafting this voice through the
written word and ultimately in college, he discovered acting. Finally in his
junior year of college, he and a friend Spencer Temkin “sat around in a bar
and recorded some of our dialogue.” They added a few characters, and Got
Change for Two? was born. This is not Guyton’s first brainchild, Macbreath is
a short play he created in high school; however, Got Change for Two? is his
first play to be produced. He says, “The audience reaction fueled more ideas
from then on.”
Guyton has written nearly two dozen plays since then, each one tackling a
risqué topic and sculpting forgivable characters in unforgettable situations.
Some of his most notable scripts are I’m Not Gay!, a play that explores
homophobic prejudice, and Where’s Julie?, a script that follows a teenager’s
decision to abort her baby…or not. I’m Not Gay! had a brief and successful run
in Reykjavic, Iceland, where an audience member almost choked to death on
opening night. Whether this response had been caused by laughter, or “bile in
the back of her throat”, as some critics have suggested, we will never know.
His plays, as well as poems, stir emotions that are ultimately met with love-it
or hate-it reviews. Guyton’s scripts are currently being produced and
published in America, and if they are reviewed well, theatres tend to run his
shows over and over. But on the other hand, like the case of South Park, you
either get it or you don’t.
This playwright has certainly had a successful career in only thirty years, so
where do his ideas come from? One may think that growing up in Long
Island, NY may not lend a young boy’s mind to such disgusting topics as
murder, rape, and adultery. Perhaps small suburban towns are not as
sheltering as television leads us to believe.
Guyton struggled with the loss of his father at a young age, hearing whispers
of murder, covered-up death details, and lots of “I’m sorry, we don’t have
answers for you right now” on behalf of the American Air Force. Our budding
playwright never heard the truth until his teenage years, and was convinced
suicide was the culprit. Luckily, Guyton was able to use his writing skills as an
outlet for confusion and frustration.
As his writing style matured, play themes emerged. The most consistent
theme in his scripts is the topic that investigates characters’ disgusting
personal flaws, which are often overlooked as the audience sympathizes with
characters’ situations. A perfect example of this theme is presented in Milo
and Barbara, when the audience lets Milo off the hook for leaving his wife for
an entire month. They allow him this atrocity after his wife Barbara admits to
sleeping with her brother-in-law to help cope with her husband’s absence.
The abuser becomes the victim! Guyton often compiles stories to showcase
humans’ worst characteristics, and display them in such a way, that these
people are forgiven for their wrongdoings. He has mentioned that he enjoys
watching his audiences “laugh until it hurts, and then when they realize it
hurts, laugh some more.” With this theme in mind, I wonder how he would
write a play about Hitler’s childhood… I wonder.
Guyton’s style is popular and timely in a society where Family Guy and South
Park are mainstream evening entertainment for many Americans. As a child of
the eighties, perhaps The Simpsons’ dark humor was a great influence on
him. Whatever the influence, Guyton is gaining supportive audiences
throughout the country as they eat up his plays. A photo on his website even
shows Robin Williams attending an evening of short plays, in which Guyton’s
Yes, his audiences generally enjoy his sick humor and satire of peoples’
foibles, but how are his scripts affecting American culture? Every now and
again governments, parents, and the public at large need to check
themselves. Are they making good choices regarding the citizens, children,
and neighborhoods? Governments can write laws to create order, teachers
can steer families towards better decisions, and HOA’s can put restrictions on
community shenanigans. Guyton challenges his audiences to check
themselves, and take responsibility for their actions, whether it is adultery,
rape, or religious acceptance. Audiences will hopefully walk out of the theater
intending NEVER to behave the way “that character did.” So, Guyton is really
doing us a favor by poking fun at ridiculous behaviors. He is teaching us
morals. To learn more about Dan’s parodies and parables, please visit www.
danguyton.com. Happy reading and we’ll see you at the theatre!