Meet the Staff: Sean Daniels, Artistic Director

Imagine, if you will, a Sean Daniels in his early twenties—who had, along with his buddies from his improv group at Florida State—at least one of whom had gotten kicked out of the school of theatre—decided to move to Atlanta, all get apartments in the same building, and throw every dollar from their improv gigs into putting on plays in a warehouse, until the money ran out. (One of those college was John Gregorio, from last season’s Home of the Brave.) Their company was called Dad’s Garage.

“This is a plan that I don’t advise to anybody,” Sean advises.

Yet it’s precisely what they did, and it put Sean on the path to become MRT’s artistic leader.

Well, not exactly—he had been hooked on theatre for a long time already, since the days his parents took him to see shows in the D.C. area. The one that stuck with him? A production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. “I was blown away,” he remembers.  “I thought, ‘I just have to do that.’ I was so inspired by it. And I have not seen it again. Because I do not want to ruin the memory of it.”

After Dad’s Garage, Sean’s dynamic career sent him from California to Kentucky to Upstate New York. Though his craft shifted from acting to directing (he cites “being a terrible actor” as the reason), he loves theatre for its ability to bond together an audience of complete strangers: “Everything you experience, you experience with people you’ve never met… you laugh differently in a theatre than you do anywhere else. There’s something different, chemically, about experiencing art with other people. I love those events that can only happen in a theatre.”

By the time he landed at MRT just over a year ago, his vision for Lowell was clear: become the leader in new play production, the place where wonderful theatre originates before it travels out to the world beyond. And he’s off to a pretty good start.

“This audience is game for new stories and new plays, in a way that I think no other audience in the country is. And what I loved most this year was to see that so much of that audience feels the same way. They want to be a part of what goes on to the rest of the country—and the city of Lowell plays a huge role in what happens to these plays. The national tour of The Lion launched from Lowell. Now, any time anyone else in the country sees it, they say, ‘Where is Lowell?’ It hadn’t been on their map before. Now they see it on the list next to Los Angeles and Washington D.C.”

The upcoming season should bring a whole new set of adventures—starting with 45 Plays for 45 Presidents, a favorite of Sean’s for over a decade, that keeps evolving with each election cycle.

And as for Dad’s Garage, the company Sean started after college—they just celebrated their 21st anniversary. If you see a show there, be sure to thank them for sending us an Artistic Director.