Dwayne Blackaller first acquired a taste for acting in high school. He was assigned to write a monologue for class but procrastinated until the last minute.
"I put it off and woke up in a panic and wrote the monologue and it was really cheesy, about a Roman ghost who had been haunting this kid for a decade. ... I performed it in front of the class and all the girls cried and were really in love with me, and I thought, 'This is the job for me.'"
High-school incentives aside, Blackaller stuck with theater. After earning a B.A. in English at Boise State University, Blackaller booked it to Ohio State University to pursue his MFA in acting.
"Moving back to Boise was a scary thing, because I had done grad school in Ohio and was getting some work in New York, and I thought coming back to Boise seemed pretty risky," said Blackaller. "I thought, 'Oh, no, am I going to be consigning myself to a smaller future?'"
s it turns out, that wasn't the case. Blackaller alternates between writing, directing, acting and teaching at Boise Contemporary Theater, while also working with Empty Boat Theatre Company and Idaho Shakespeare Festival. Blackaller had a lead role in BCT's 2012 production Gruesome Playground Injuries and in 1999's The Pavilion. This season, he directed Tracy Sunderland in the one-woman production Graphic Depictions, and starred in and co-wrote BCT's all-ages monster hit, A Nighttime Survival Guide.
"That was the best-attended BCT show in its history," said Blackaller. "We received more letters about that play and emails and messages than any other play, and it was really astonishing because I didn't think of it as a play that would particularly hit our audience this well."
When he's not writing or performing, Blackaller can also be found running BCT's Theater Lab program, which is open to students ages 12-17.
"In about 56 hours, we conceive, devise, write, memorize and perform a play, which is really, really astonishing when you think that in our professional setting--when we have a play that already exists--we take about 40 hours a week, times four," he said.
But Blackaller is particularly proud of his work with Idaho Shakespeare Festival's Idaho Theater for Youth. Two of the plays he's written--H.G. Wells: The Science of Fiction and Air Heart--have recently toured to schools around the state.
"Between this and last year, 50,000 kids saw those plays," said Blackaller. "I've got beautiful letters and things like that from kids all over the place who are just gaga for it. That's been a big and exciting new piece of my life that I hope to continue because [my son] Jack keeps asking me, 'When's the next play?' and he's pushing me to make more stuff for kids, and I think I will."