ATLANTA—MPP student Daniel Glenn is a former high school English teacher with a successful background in theater as a playwright and recent New York Times Critic’s Pick honoree. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, he sought a new opportunity to connect his professional experience to education policy.
Glenn chose the Andrew Young School in hopes of intersecting his passion for theater with his interest in public policy. A graduate research assistant to Professor John Thomas, he realizes the similarities of the collaborative nature between playwriting and the public policy program.
“At its best, the combination of experience in being a former educator and a playwright works to show unexpected viewpoints,” he said.
Glenn’s interest in theater began in high school.
“I was a kid who always made up stories,” he said. “I love playwriting because you get to benefit from other people’s expertise and talents in a way that is unique.”
Glenn’s passion for policy was influenced by his participation in the Georgia Governor’s Honors Program (GHP) at Berry College, a residential summer program for gifted and talented high school students that provides them the academic, cultural and social enrichment necessary to become the next generation of global critical thinkers, innovators and leaders.
Later, as a master’s student at Sarah Lawrence College, when granted opportunities to write plays, he found his writing often focused on policy issues.
“People who have passions or hobbies will manifest them no matter what,” he said. “If I get an idea, I am going to sit down and write.”
Glenn has combined his interests in public policy and passion for theater in several of his plays, including the monologue, “My Date with Troy Davis,” about the life of the late Troy Anthony Davis, who was convicted of killing a Savannah police officer and executed in 2011.
Glenn’s play, “King Philip’s Head Is Still on That Pike Just Down the Road,” is a dark comedy about King Philip’s War, the conflict between Native Americans and English settlers in New England. He wrote in a gender-reversed cast to strategically reveal the idea that conflict will not end unless people can see the enemy and themselves simultaneously. The play grabbed the attention of many, eventually becoming a New York Times Critic’s Pick for Off Broadway Comedy/Drama Play.
“It was the best professional experience I’ve had,” he said. “A play being reviewed by The New York Times is a dream.”
Glenn continues to write plays and hopes to eventually work for an agency that deals with education or in a nonprofit to help with policy analysis. In the meantime, he interns with a state agency that works directly with charter schools to expand programs like GHP to rural areas of Georgia.
“My goal is to expand the program to more remote parts of Georgia, so more students have the opportunity to have life-changing experiences,” he said.
By Ashley Thompson, M.A. in Communication candidate