Darren Yorke is a multi-skilled maker of theatre and music, an improviser and improv teacher, 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 in 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).
A fusion of VTSL’s style & philosophy and Keith Johnstone’s IMPRO method formed the cornerstone of Grand Stretch. The company has been a member of the International Theatresports Institute (iTi) since launching in 2017. Grand Stretch is currently the only Irish company licensed in the practice and production of THEATRESPORTS™, and recently obtained a licence to produce MAESTRO™ at the Smock Alley Theatre's Scene + Heard 2019.
In 2018, Darren had the opportunity to participate in an 8-Day Masterclass with Keith Johnstone in 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.
Later that year, Darren went on to participate in a residential 8-Day intensive at the Danish National School of Performing Arts with Steen Haakon Hansen and Patti Stiles - two prominent teachers of Johnstone's Method with a focus on the staging and performing of IMPRO. He also had an opportunity to train with Leon Düvel (Die Gorrilas) that same year.
This year, Darren participated in a 5-Day New Year's Intensive with The Showstoppers - the Olivier Award-winning musical improvisers.
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 improvisers he has enjoyed training and performance opportunities with include: Joe Bill (co-founder of Annoyance Theater) and Isaac Knox, (Freestyler and Battle Rapper). 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 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 - and Darren studied Acting, Playwriting and Directing at an advanced level in his final year.
Since graduating from TCD, Darren has also completed:
IMAGE: Bakru Productions' Bloody Bones | Smock Allies Scene & Heard 2018
IMAGE: Ciarán's Aisling | Irish Student Drama Awards, 2012
*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