Daniel Banks has directed at such venues as National Theatre of Uganda; Belarussian National Drama Theatre; Market Theatre, South Africa; Playhouse Square, Cleveland; Bay Area Playwrights Festival; NYC and DC Hip Hop Theatre Festivals; Oval House and Teatro Technis (London); Bishop Arts Theatre Center (Dallas); and HERE Arts Center and Queens Theater in the Park (NYC). He worked as choreographer/movement director at Shakespeare in the Park/NY Shakespeare Festival, Theatre for a New Audience, Maurice Sendak’s The Night Kitchen, Singapore Rep, and La Monnaie (Brussels).
Daniel is the co-director of DNAWORKS, an arts and service organization dedicated to dialogue and healing through the arts, engaging topics of representation, identity and heritage. Current projects: The Real James Bond…Was Dominican by/with Christopher Rivas (touring); Dreaming Emmett by Toni Morrison, a lost play about Emmett Till that has not been produced since 1986; and The Secret Sharer (recipient of the 2019 MAP Fund Award), an adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s novella, considered an early LGBTQ text, exploring fragility, tenderness, and intimacy in times of personal duress and societal discrimination.
Daniel served on the dramaturgical team for Camille A. Brown & Dancers (Black Girl: Linguistic Play and ink). He is founder of the Hip Hop Theatre Initiative, promoting youth self-expression and leadership. He is Associate Director of Theatre Without Borders and was a recipient of the Sallie B. Goodman Retreat at McCarter Theatre, Princeton, NJ. Daniel is editor of Say Word! Voices from Hip Hop Theater and co-editor of Casting a Movement: The Welcome Table Initiative.
Daniel is one of my favorite artists. As a director, he brings a profound understanding of passion, history, community, and action. He staged my play with such skill & vision,
I'm still inspired by that production several years later. As a mentor, his guidance is invaluable. As an educator, he empowers his students to create from the heart
with a sense of purpose, intellect, determination. #teamdaniel
- Christina Anderson, Playwright
One of the best things about working with Daniel as a director was his seemingly effortless leadership. He explained dramaturgy in simple language and didn’t boggle down my overloaded brain that was trying to tell a story and keep it on track. His approach to telling a story validates identity and defines playwriting as an individualized craft so that the playwright can take ownership of it.
For example, Daniel begins the process of developing new work by insisting
that he and the playwright sit down, one on one, and read the play aloud.
This reading lifted anxieties and vulnerability because it established the kind of
trust and security that I needed to move forward with an intense drama that put
gay Chicano men on stage. Together we addressed and readdressed the
elements of my play so that I could better develop my style and
techniques to get to the core of what I was saying and have it be heard.
- Law Chavez, winner of the 2011 National Latino Playwrights Award,
Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival
Daniel Banks is this generation's Peter Brook and Lloyd Richards wrapped into one. Banks' directorial genius is steeped in humanity and a purposeful reality.
- Denise Woods, Voice/Dialect Coach for August Wilson's
Gem of the Ocean with Phylicia Rashad, Mark Taper Forum
Daniel Banks directed me in a one-man show, Corpus Christi, which we developed and worked on for quite some time together. Daniel is both a superlative teacher AND director, and to this day that experience sticks with me as one of the most deeply meaningful and growth-filled creative endeavors I have had. This is largely due to Daniel and his God-given gift for working with student actors and helping to bring forth from within them that which they did not know they possessed. His influence and special talent helped tremendously to prepare me for life as a working actor, and it is not hyperbole to say that I credit my experience working with him for much of what has led to my significant (if relatively modest) successes thus far professionally.
- Daniel Sunjata, "Paul Briggs" in Graceland (USA Network) and
Macduff in Macbeth (Lincoln Center Theatre, opposite Ethan Hawke)
press. & publications.
Review, The Real James Bond...Was Dominican, The Column, 2019
Review, The Real James Bond...Was Dominican, TheatreJones, 2019
"Small Is Beautiful" in American Theatre, 2019
Review, Hollow Roots, TheatreJones, 2018
"Combining Culture and Community," SDC Journal Winter 2013
Review, HaMapah/The Map, TimesUnion, 2012
In Dance, A Map for Discussing Identity by Tresca Weinstein, Times Union, Albany, 2012
“Global Spotlight: Baku, Azerbaijan” by Nicole Estvanik Taylor, American Theatre, 2011
"We Will Not Stop Dancing" by Micah Kelber, Forward, 2010
“Mainstream Remix: Frank Talk about Casting, Training and Presenting Actors and Works of Color,” American Theatre, 2008
“Join the Hip Hop Revolution,” Southern Theatre, 2008
"Hip Hop Theater's Future and ID," Washington Square News, 2008
Hip Hop Theatrical by Adrienne Sichel, The Star, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2006
Bling, or Revolution, American Theatre, July-August 2004
“Hip Hop Workshop Battles Stereotypes,” The Charleston Gazette, 2004
Six World Theatre Practitioners, American Theatre, May-June 2002
Review of Yankl der Shmid, New York Times, 1998
Bosoms and Neglect Reviews, London, 1992
Casting a Movement: The Welcome Table Initiative, co-edited by Claire Syler and Daniel Banks, Routledge 2019
"Hip Hop as Pedagogy: Something from Something" in Theatre Topics (Vol. 25), 2015.
"The Welcome Table: Casting for an Integrated Society" in Theatre Topics (Vol. 23), 2013.
“The Question of Cultural Diplomacy: Acting Ethically” in Theatre Topics, 2011.
“Youth Leading Youth: Hip Hop and Hiplife Theatre in Ghana and South Africa” in Acting Together: Performance and
the Creative Transformation of Conflict, vol 2, New Village Press, 2011.
Say Word! Voices from Hip Hop Theater, a critical anthology edited by Daniel Banks,University of Michigan Press, 2011.
“From Homer to Hip Hop: Orature and Griots, Ancient and Present” in Classical World, 2010.
“Hip Hop Theatre: A Call for Change” for Conflict Transformation Using Theatre, A Training Manual for
War Child Holland, 2009.
“How Hiplife Theatre Was Born in Ghana” in American Theatre, 2008.
“Unperforming ‘Race’: Strategies for Reimagining Identity” in A Boal Companion, Routledge 2006.
“Refugees in Ghana Find Their Voice in Hip Hop Culture” in Service Matters, 2006.
“Re-Thinking Non-Traditional Casting” in Black Masks, 2003.
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