Art People: Danny Bryck / actor
In the fall of 2011, Cambridge resident Danny Bryck was splitting his time between two very different activities: He was playing Romeo in a Shakespeare Now! Theatre Company production of “Romeo and Juliet” — and he was spending as much time as he could at the Occupy Boston encampment in Dewey Square.
“It was interesting,” said Bryck, 25, of his dual existence.
In fact, though, his role as Romeo and his role as an artist/participant/journalist at Occupy Boston shared the common bond of his passion for theater.
Bryck grew up in Amherst and graduated from the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School in South Hadley in 2005. From there, he went on to study at the Boston University School of Theater, graduating in 2009. Though he chose theater as his life’s work, Bryck says he’s had a lifelong interest in “politics and world events and issues of social justice.” So when the Occupy movement began to catch fire around the country as a protest against economic injustice, it was in character for Bryck to check it out.
Fascinated by what he saw and heard, Bryck decided to create a documentary play. Tape recorder in hand, he went to the encampment as often as he could between October and December 2011, spending hundreds of hours doing interviews.
The result is “No Room for Wishing,” a one-man play in which Bryck presents the stories of some of the people he met there. The show, which has already been staged in Boston and New York, will be at the Jones Library in Amherst on Dec. 7.
“My goal was to give people a deeper understanding of what Occupy was about,” Bryck said. “We have a tendency to categorize people into groups, to say they are either this thing or that thing.”
Bryck wanted to dig deeper, to show Occupy Boston in its complexity.
“I was continually impressed, humbled and amazed by the variety of people,” he said. Among them were a college student saddled with loans; a lifelong socialist; a bank employee; a militant anarchist; a homeless person in need of shelter. He also explored the tensions and infighting that emerged among factions, along with the pressures brought by city government and police. “I didn’t want to sugarcoat it,” he said.
Bryck estimates that he interviewed close to 200 people. His first effort to distill all that material resulted in a draft that took eight hours to read through, he said, and that meant lots of cuts. Throughout the process, Bryck said, the keen eye and ear and good judgment of director Megan Sandberg-Zakian was invaluable.
“I was too close to it,” he said. “She really helped me file it down.”
“No Room for Wishing” presents about 30 characters, and Bryck said every word they speak is taken from the interviews. As he immersed himself in his mission of telling each individual’s story, he came to know a lot about their lives, thoughts and experiences.
“I have these people in my bones,” he said.
— Suzanne Wilson
Danny Bryck will perform “No Room for Wishing” at the Jones Library, 43 Amity St., Amherst, on Dec. 7 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20, $10 for students; no one will be turned away for inability to pay. A reception and discussion will follow.