Q&A with Patrick DuLaney


Patrick DuLaney is a freelance actor, director, choreographer, and teacher living in Iowa City. He has worked extensively in this area, as well as all over the country for the past 20 years. DuLaney holds an M.F.A. in acting and directing from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, is a founding member of the Alaskan Shakespeare Festival, and is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association.

The Daily Iowan: What is it like to be a professional actor?

Patrick DuLaney: My path as a professional actor hasn’t been a typical one. I think most actors go to school, then immediately move to New York or Los Angeles to “make it.” I realized early on that I wasn’t going to be in my “type” until I’d reached middle age, so I avoided the larger cities in favor of working more and gaining experience. Work has taken me all over the country, and I’ve had the privilege of seeing or experiencing so much thanks to my career. I’ve also been in some, shall we say, artistically questionable shows more than once, but I think it’s all been worthwhile, in the end.

DI: What steps did you take to become an actor?

DuLaney: I knew what I wanted to do when I was 13. I was in a play in junior high and said, “Oh. I’m going to do this now.” So I was very lucky in that regard. I majored in theater in college, then spent the next 10 or so years working professionally in a variety of places. I went to graduate school at the age of 33 for my M.F.A., and I have to say that was one of the smartest things I’ve ever done. Waiting gave me the opportunity to know what I needed to work on, gave me some patience and perspective. Since then, I’ve continued to work steadily as an actor, but I’ve also divided my time fairly equally between teaching and directing as well.

DI: What is your favorite thing about performing?

DuLaney: Every time you act is an opportunity to change someone’s life, even if it’s only for the space of a few hours. What other profession affords a direct line to another person like that? I am frequently at my most open, generous, and kind as a performer.

DI: What work have you done locally (whether it be performing, directing, or assisting)?

DuLaney: I came to Iowa City in 2008, thanks to Jody Hovland and Ron Clark, for the Riverside Shakespeare Festival. I fell in love with the town (and with a person), and that’s kept me here (mostly) ever since. I’ve worked a fair amount as an actor for Riverside and Old Creamery Theaters and directed a number of productions for City Circle Acting Company, which has been such a wonderful blessing. Bizarrely, I’ve also found a great deal of work as a choreographer in the area, and that’s kept me busy at City High, Kirkwood Community, and a number of other theaters here. I’ve also done a great deal of teaching in the area at the high school and college levels, both as a guest artist and on my own.

DI: What current projects are you working on?

Du Laney: The inimitable Christopher Okiishi and I are producing our own musical in August, featuring some of the best performers in the area. We’re keeping it on the QT and very hush-hush, as they say. After that, I direct William Shakespeare’s Land of the Deadfor City Circle. Come audition. It’s a great new work.

DI: What advice do you have for people who want to be professional performers like you?

DuLaney: Be patient and kind to yourself. Acting is a road you walk, not a finish line to cross. Remember why you do it — it’s for them, the audience, always.

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