Artistic Director Eric Fraisher Hayes
Having grown up running through the hills around Tao House, it is no wonder that Eric Fraisher Hayes's journey found him back in Danville, CA working with the Eugene O’Neill Foundation. Eric’s expertise developed over his 30 years in theatre has allowed the Eugene O’Neill Foundation to improve and expand its productions giving theatre-goers many rare opportunities.
When Eric moved back to the Bay Area, he found himself drawn to work at the Eugene O’Neill Foundation. He thought, "I live in Danville, grew up in Danville, and Eugene O'Neill, this world-renowned playwright, lived and wrote in Danville. I should get involved with Tao House." He joined the board in 2008 and began reading all of O’Neill’s plays in the order in which they were written. This gave him a unique perspective on all of the plays but especially the ones that are rarely produced.
Under Eric’s leadership, the Eugene O’Neill Foundation began producing its own plays which allowed for more creative direction and consistent quality. As of January 2022, he has directed 28 of O'Neill's 51 plays, making him the leading interpreter of O'Neill in the country. Eric says, “The more I direct O'Neill plays the more confidence I gain to tackle the obscure and challenging titles.” Since many of the early plays have rarely been produced, “I get to fully engage my imagination as to how to tell the story of the play.”
Eric has also been integral in growing the Eugene O’Neill Festival. Originally just one weekend, it has now expanded to a month-long celebration involving other in-person and virtual events such as a historic tour of Danville, a hike to Tao House, talks with dramaturgs, actors and Eric himself after performances.