In a society where everyone is divided culturally and politically, one former Bronxite is portraying these polarizing issues in an off-Broadway show in the borough.
Dan Hoyle, 39, who lived in Melrose from 2013 to 2016, is performing a show “Border People,” which is coming to the Bronx Documentary Center, 614 Courtlandt Ave, March 6 and 7.
“Border People” is a solo show, based on Hoyle’s conversations with immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers and border crossers of all kinds at both the north and southern borders of the United States.
Hoyle appears as 11 people in the show, including portraying the true-life stories of two Bronx workingmen, Larry Canty and Jarrett Gaymon. Canty is a building superintendent, and Gaymon an ex-navy, martial arts expert is from the projects in the south Bronx.
“The goal is to have people feel like they met all 11 people,” Hoyle said. “My work is always looking at this type of stuff, but I haven’t ever looked at in this way.”
Hoyle, who lives in Oakland, said the inspiration for the show began when President Trump was elected. In 2016 while he was an artist-in-residence at the Heyman Center for Humanities at Columbia University he was tasked to create a journalistic solo show and quickly realized it was the prefect opportunity to depict the cultural and racial struggle of many people today.
Not long after this, he met Gaymon, 36, a disabled veteran, who lives in the Melrose Houses.
Gaymon, who has never had himself portrayed in a theatrical setting, said he was a bit nervous at first, but after seeing the play four times, he feels he was represented well.
“I thought it was fantastic,” he exclaimed.
He explained he has “always had to pass the test for black and white people.” As a 6’5 200 plus black guy he is often too black for white people or not black enough for black people. Gaymon noted that Hoyle even got his verbal and nonverbal mannerisms on point, which really made him laugh.
“There’s these ideas that certain white people have of black people,” he said. “I don’t come across as thuggish in anyway.”
Hoyle got to know Gaymon and Canty as he frequented the courtyard at Melrose and Andrew Jackson Houses. He noted that often people thought he was a cop because he was the only white guy there.
The actor told the Bronx Times that when the play comes to the borough he hopes the characters resonate with Bronxites and they are able to connect with them. While not every character in the show is based on one person, they all represent people’s struggles with race, gender or life.
“The idea was to get across to the target demographic,” he explained. “I’m trying to give the audience the emotional experience I had.”
Also, tickets are Pay-what-you-can on Friday 3/6, at the door-15 minutes prior to curtain, subject to availability.