Get to Know: Donn Saylor

20% Theatre Company is thrilled to announce Q-STAGE – a new, experimental series showcasing the work of local queer artists/performing groups. As a company we recognize that “queer” can mean vastly different things to different people. To us, “queer” is a term of radical self-definition – and can relate to personal gender or sexual identity, history, presentation, artistic approach and/or content, and so much more.

Six shows were chosen out of 14 applications, and you are about to read about one of them! We reached out to Donn Saylor, the writer, director and performer of Pilgrim Soul: The Life of William Haines, a Q Stage production going on now at Nimbus Theatre.


What attracted you to the Q-Stage opportunity?

I was attracted to Q-Stage because the wonderful folks at 20% were offering something truly unique: the room–both literally and figuratively–to develop, brainstorm, experiment, and create in a wholly supportive, nurturing environment. That is something quite rare, and I’ve treasured the experience. Also, something like Q-Stage would never have existed in Billy Haines’s time, and I think it’s something he would get quite a kick out of and find really cool.


What was the most surprising or exciting discovery you made during the rehearsal process?

Oh…too many to mention! Primarily this…. I don’t think it’s terribly unique for someone who has been given the opportunity to create and perform an intensely intimate piece like this to feel an allegiance with the character they are portraying. But I had no idea of just how deeply that allegiance would run. I had been researching this show for a year and a half before sitting down to actually write the thing, and I thought I knew all I could possibly know about Billy Haines. But once I started physically working on the piece–from the simple act of typing it out to the more challenging aspects of inhabiting it onstage–I was surprised at how many points in communion he and I have. Our lives couldn’t be more different on an external level, but, emotionally-speaking, a lot of his experience resonated with me. Even in instances where I really didn’t know if I could–in real life–do what he did, it emotionally rang true as something to which I wanted to aspire. I kinda want to be Billy Haines when I grow up. 🙂


If your play/performance piece had a theme song, what artist would sing/play it?

I like to think that it DOES have a sort-of unofficial theme song, which is played at the end of the piece: “Non, je ne regrette rien” by Edith Piaf. “No, I regret nothing.” That says it pretty beautifully, I think.


Describe your show in 5 words or less:

“Silence is not always golden.”

To purchase tickets to this show or any other Q Stage production, visit