Tag Archives: Daniel Dorner

Daniel Dorner

April 24, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

When Daniel Dorner performed in the Brigit St. Brigit’s production for An Iliad last fall, he gave a rivetting performance in the role of epic poet Homer and related the tale of the Trojan War with gut wrenching intensity. He was the only actor on the stage, and he seamlessly segued between depicting such legendary heroes as Hector and Achilles. He garnered rave reviews—and deservedly so.

Omaha World-Herald critic Bob Fischbach pegged An Iliad as his fave show of last year, and Omaha Magazine executive editor David Williams lauded his work as a “powerhouse performance” in an online review.

But Dorner is not a professional actor, and before An Iliad he had not done theater work for close to a decade. Rather, he is a media design specialist who creates content for film, video, apps, television, and web sites. He is also a director, developer, writer, and animator, all of which require creative passion and an ability to see above and beyond reality.  “I really like anything imaginative,” says the 32-year-old. “I like presenting something you don’t see in real life.”

Dorner can trace this ability to his childhood. He grew up in Taiwan and didn’t move to the U.S. until he was 12. His time in East Asia proved highly formative. “I grew up with anime and movies like Blade Runner and Prometheus,” he explains. “They had very strong influences on my visual aesthetic.”

That aesthetic frequently features futuristic landscapes and holographic technology reminiscent of sci-fi films. His ability to portray such conceptual imagery has resulted in his work being featured on ESPN as well as other sports news stations and has won him awards like the prestigious 2012 Telly Award, which honors the best film and video productions, online video content and outstanding local, regional, and cable TV commercials and programs.

But it’s perhaps Dorner’s acting for which he is best known. At age 19, he performed his first non-speaking role at the Omaha Community Playhouse, and meatier ones quickly followed in plays like The Diary of Ann Frank and The Foreigner. Although he began winning awards like the Omaha Community Playhouse’s 2001 Clarence Teal Cameo Award, it was his 2003 lead role in The Elephant Man on that same stage that garnered him one of the most coveted nods: the Theatre Arts Guild award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role.

Despite the acclaim, work demands and the birth of his two children kept him from theater work for ten years.  Dorner, however, didn’t find it difficult to return to the stage. “I felt very comfortable going back to acting,” he reflects.  “It was a brilliant script, and it pushed me in areas where I didn’t think I needed to be pushed.”

Even so, Dorner won’t return to acting anytime soon. “I act every ten years, and I’m happy to keep it that way,” he notes. “I’d like to focus on writing a novel. I’ve never really tackled that as an art form.”

No matter his creative pursuit, one thing remains certain. Daniel Dorner will continue to generate thought-provoking work that brings people to places they can only begin to imagine.


The Gods Must Be Crazy

November 6, 2014 by

The action in the Brigit Saint Brigit production of An Iliad takes place at the gates of Troy, but it could just as easily have been Baghdad, Beirut, Belfast, or Biafra. When it comes to war, one needn’t stray beyond the second letter of the alphabet to be reminded that the story of man is written in his own blood.

Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare conceived the play at the dawn of America’s 2003 invasion of Iraq. The vehicle they chose to represent endless war comes in the form of a cypher, one that has haunted every foxhole, every trench, and every rampart since time immemorial. Known simply as The Poet, he is doomed by the gods to narrate tales of conflict until such time as the plague of war is eradicated from the globe.

Which means that the world-weary Poet never runs out of material. His catalog of battles is expansive, eternal…but what better tale to tell than that of Homer’s The Iliad?

Daniel Dorner gives a powerhouse performance as the scruffy raconteur who enters lugging a heavy suitcase, the contents of which remain as mysterious as the famous briefcase in Pulp Fiction. Perhaps he is schlepping the collective weight of a planet’s sorrows?

The Poet spins a lyrical saga while, on occasion, lapsing into snippets of the work’s original Greek, but perhaps the most evocative passages of An Iliad—the ones that best translate the horrors (and humanity) of war—are found when the narrator speaks in a contemporary tongue. It is then that the bard in a pork pie hat is something of an Everyman. He’s the guy on the third barstool from the jukebox. He’s your neighbor chatting over the fence. He’s the cabbie talking your ear off as the meter ticks away. He’s a storyteller.

The play unfolds on an almost entirely bare stage, but Dorner’s is a performance of incredible physicality. The most energetic Slam artist has nothing on this guy. Moving seamlessly between shadow and light, lucidity and lunacy, The Poet strikes a breathlessly riveting figure. His only companion is The Muse, played by stand-up bassist Max Stehr. The musician speaks no lines. He alternately caresses and then attacks his instrument. His bass is not an avenue for providing a musical score so much as it is a source of sound effects and other machinations that drone and groan and scream and whimper in punctuating The Poet’s words.

Homer has never been more accessible—or relevant. His characters wielded bows, spears, and shields, but they could just as easily have been planting roadside bombs or firing rocket launchers. Sadly, The Poet’s bellicose subject matter is sourced from a bottomless abyss. His stories have no beginning and no end.

The Poet, it would seem, will forever be under the spell of the gods. He’ll always have new tales to tell. In the meantime, Director Cathy Kurz’s An Iliad is flat-out unforgettable theatre.

An Iliad runs through Nov. 30 at the Brigit Saint Brigit Theatre, 1002 Dodge St. Visit bsbtheatre.com for ticket information.