Tony Award winner Daniel Sullivan recently returned to the Creative Arts Building — where he spent countless hours decades ago as an undergraduate — to dish advice to today’s students on all things directing for the stage.
On February 9 in the Little Theatre, Sullivan (B.A., ’62) discussed changes that have happened in the industry since he graduated, particularly the ways in which students are better prepared to find work in the field once they graduate.
“We now ... teach how we present ourselves, learning who we are, how we are perceived in the world, how we are perceived in the world of the theatre, and not that one always plays to those perceptions,” he said. “But you have to kind of know that at least, if you want to stretch beyond that, that’s wonderful. You should be able to do it.”
He also talked about how many of the things students learn in the School of Theatre & Dance are “long term” — that is, things that will be continuous places of learning throughout their careers.
While attending SF State, Sullivan focused on acting. He studied under Professors Jules Irving and Herbert Blau, founders of the groundbreaking San Francisco Actors’ Workshop. When Irving and Blau moved to New York to lead the repertory theatre at the Lincoln Center, they brought Sullivan with them.
“I came to [San Francisco] State College and found the family of theatre,” Sullivan said. “That was my society. That’s when I fell in love with it, and I’ve never left it.”
Sullivan won the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play in 2001 for Proof and has been nominated for five other Tonys. His most recent nomination came in 2011 for The Merchant of Venice, starring Al Pacino. Sullivan is in the Bay Area this spring to direct Shakespeare’s MacBeth, starring Conleth Hill and Frances McDormand at Berkeley Repertory Theatre.