Darren Yorke is a multi-skilled maker of theatre and music; improviser, actor, playwright, theatre director, musician, composer, arts facilitator, and the founder of Grand Stretch. He is drawn to making work that fuses theatre with the live performance of original songs and musical compositions. He relishes opportunities to collaborate on and perform in works that are conceived, developed or presented through improvisation.
Originally from Co. Longford, Darren is currently based in Dublin, having spent some time living in Canada, where he trained extensively in improvisation with Vancouver Theatresports™ from 2014-2016. He holds a BA in Drama & Theatre Studies from Trinity College Dublin, and has trained with Keith Johnstone in the IMPRO method.
Darren was made most welcome by VTSL family, while based in Canada from 2014-2016. He performed as part of the company ensemble, and played an important role in establishing the Improv Comedy Institute while he held the position of ICI & Outreach Programs Coordinator for the company - a role in which he:
His training at the VTSL style & philosophy included the Core Series, Improv Gym Series and Performance Studio at the ICI, and Rookie League seasons 9 & 10. He has maintained a close relationship with the company and, in founding Grand Stretch, he has valued the continued support and mentorship of Jay Ono (Executive Dir.), Denise Jones (former Artistic Dir.) and Margret Nyfors (Dir. of Education).
While based in Vancouver, Darren was also an active member with Vancouver’s Queer Prov (AKA The Queer Improv Society), and a frequent player with The Fictionals Comedy Co. Notable improvers he has enjoyed training and performance opportunities with include: Joe Bill (co-founder of Annoyance Theater), Isaac Knox, (Freestyler and Battle Rapper) and Leon Düvel (Die Gorrilas). Noteable companies he has enjoyed training and performance opportunities with include: The Hideout Theatre (Austin TX), SAK Comedy Lab (Orlando FL), Dad’s Garage (Austin TX), The Upfront Theatre (Bellingham WA), Curious Comedy Theater (Portland OR), and Off Key Improv (Vancouver BC).
Darren has since trained with Keith Johnstone in the IMPRO method (Theaterhaus Berlin Mitte, with Interkunst e.V. Berlin). As creator of THEATRESPORTS™, MAESTRO IMPRO© (or MICETRO© IMPRO), GORILLA THEARE™, and THE LIFE GAME©, Johnstone has been a pioneer of improvisational theatre. As author of two best selling books about his Theatre and Improvisation theories and practices, Johnstone is one of few internationally recognised authorities in the field of improvisation.
A fusion of VTSL’s style & philosophy and Keith Johnstone’s IMPRO method formed the cornerstone of Grand Stretch. The company became a member of the International Theatresports Institute (iTi) in September of 2017, and is currently the only Irish company licensed in the practice and production of THEATRESPORTS™. The company officially launched in October of 2017 with An Evening of Grand Stretch at The Complex (Dublin). THEATRESPORTS™ headlined the evening's events, in which Darren Yorke was accompanied by special guests Denise Jones (VTSL), Michael Teigen (VTSL), Dan Dumsha (VTSL), Diana Francis (The Second City), Duane Keogh and Dave Keogh (The Town Pants).
Since launching the company, Darren has been committed to cultivating a diverse community of improvisers in the Grand Stretch style & philosophy. He facilitates improvisation-based education programmes, training opportunities and outreach initiatives for all ages and abilities - primarily in Dublin and Co. Longford. He aspires to bring THEATRSPORTS™ to regular production in Dublin, with a view to establishing a company ensemble by October of 2018.
Darren graduated with a BA(Hons) in Drama & Theatre Studies from Trinity College Dublin, where he studied from 2009-2013.
Course included: Theatre Studies (various modules), Acting, Playwriting, Directing, Devising, Clowning (with Raymond Keane), Dance Theatre (with Michael Keegan Dolan), Performance Studies, Stage Design, Lighting Design, Costume Design, Technical Theatre, Theatre Management, and Drama & Community.
Advanced: Darren studied Acting, Playwriting and Directing at an advanced level in his final year.
Darren has since trained extensively in improvisation, and has completed Playing For Your Audience – Course 1 with Theatre Lovett at The Abbey Theatre, and an intensive week of COMMEDIA DELL’ARTE in the Corn Exchange style & philosophy with Annie Ryan.
IMAGE: Bakru Productions' Bloody Bones | Smock Allies Scene & Hard 2018
ACTING CREDITS INCLUDE: Bloody Bones (Dir. Laura Bowler at Smock Allies Scene & Heard 2018 | Barku Productions), A Fairwell Concert of Sorts (Dir. Darren Yorke at XYYVR), A Talent For Lying (Dir. Sarah Bradley at Chancery Lane Theatre | Octopus Soup), On Raftery’s Hill (Dir. Laura Bowler at The Samuel Beckett Theatre), The Last Post (Co-Dir. Darren Sinnott & Liadain Kaminska Ní Bhraonáin | Just The Lads Theatre Co.), Tis Pity She’s A Whore (Dir. Selina Cartmell at The Samuel Beckett Theatre), The Broken Heart (Dir. Selina Cartmell at The Samuel Beckett Theatre), College of Clowns (Dir. Raymond Keane at The Samuel Beckett Theatre), The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged (Dir. Billy Higgins at The Samuel Beckett Theatre, later revived by Dublin Shakespeare Festival), Amadeus (Dir. Clancy Flynn at The Samuel Beckett Theatre), Portia Coughlan (Dir. Laura Bowler at The Samuel Beckett Theatre), A Stain (Dir. Cameron Macauley at Players Theatre), Spring Awakening (Co-Dir. Ellen Flynn & Ciara Ní Chuirc at Players Theatre), The Penny Drop (Dir. Cristín Keogh at Players Theatre), Rhapsody Above Thomas Street (Dir. Liam McCarthy at Players Theatre), Sive (Dir. Therése Prendeville at Players Theatre), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Dir. György vidoevski at The Abbey Theatre, Peacock Stage | National Association of Youth Drama)
IMAGE: Ciarán's Aisling | Irish Student Drama Awards, 2012
*IN A HOOP is a work in development, in collaboration with Kate Finegan, first presented as a 30-min work in progress directed by Sarah Bradley at Smock Allies Scene + Heard (2017).
**Ciarán's Aisling was first presented at Players Theatre, where it was chosen to represent TCD at the Irish Student Drama Awards in 2012. There, it was nominated for 7 awards (including Best Production, New Writing and Sound Design). It was later supported in development by the Fishamble New Play Clinic and presented as part of the 10daysindublin festival at Smock Alley Boys School (2013)
MOST WOULD (I NEVER WILL) | Written for Laura Bowler's production of Marina Carr's On Raftery's Hill at The Samuel Beckett Theatre (2013).
"Verses and chorus were threaded throughout, often sung in three-part harmony by the women of ORH and accompanied by Ded's fiddle. It was never intended to as one 'song' but, as no recordings exist from the original production, I have recorded this arrangement purely for my own amusement." - Darren Yorke
Original Demo recordings (2012):
Starring Darren Yorke and Andrew Hanley | Written by Sam Horgan and Oliver Nolan | Directed by Sam Horgan
Edited by Jenni Roche | Produced by Sara Reilly | Cinematography by Oliver Nolan | Sound & Original Score by James O'Leary