Saturday, August 20, 2016
Spotlight On...Tiffany Barton
Hometown: Fremantle, West Australia
Education: A BA in Creative Writing from Curtin University, Perth. ( And the award for outstanding creative writing student in that year.)
Why theater?: I try to leave theatre because the pay is lousy but it keeps calling me back! I love the immediacy of theatre – the fact that it’s right there in front of you. You can smell it, feel it and taste it. I have more license to be poetic and experimental with theatre, which is why I particularily love Fringe theatre – because it gives me license to say whatever I want, to explore taboos, to be weird and wild and wonderful.
Favorite Credits: Do you mean accomplishments? Winning awards for DIVA and being nominated for the International Women’s Playwrights Award (The Guilder/Coigney Award) were pretty special
Tell us about DIVA: DIVA is a play about an aging and eccentric New York opera singer. She’s holed up in her apartment with her booze, pills and dead stuffed cat Eugene, and unable to leave. As the play progresses we unpack the complex reasons for why she’s found herself in this predicament. DIVA is a play about art, love and loss.
What inspired you to write DIVA?: DIVA is inspired by a real life New York character and friend of my mothers. They met in New York in the 60s when they were both working for Avon. I met her in a Russian bar on a Monday night when I was visiting here in 2012. We threw back vodkas and she regaled me with stories about her career in opera and her rich and varied love life. To me she was a quintessential New York character – bold, brassy, beautiful, outspoken, uncompromising, tough, charismatic and hilarious. When she found out I was a playwright she said “Tiffany, I want you to write me a one woman show about the divas of Puccini.” I just happened to have my trusty writer’s notebook on me that night, so I began to take notes and DIVA was born.
What kind of theatre speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I really love Fringe theatre because it’s often very brave, bold and visceral. I like theatre that’s honest, stripped back and raw. I’m not into fabulous sets and big chorus line numbers. I like simple, minimal theatre, where the onus is on the performer and the writer to tell a powerful story. I love theatre that takes risks – where the performers are vulnerable and open and you feel invited into a very intimate world. I was very drawn to Sarah Kane and In Your Face theatre when I was studying at University. I love that kind of theatre because it’s gritty, provocative and confronting. I love the artists who are bold, brave and operate on the fringes of society – the rebels, the radicals and the subversives. Artists like Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs, Annie Sprinkle, Kathy Acker, Brett Easton Ellis, Tom Waits, David Lynch, Robert Wilson, Madonna, Diamanda Galas, Lou Reed, Warhol, Basquiat, Toni Morrison, Jeanette Winterson, Anais Nin and Henry Miller.
What show would you recommend to your friends?: Sleep No More. Oh My God! Amaaaaaazing! I saw it last time I was in New York and it blew my mind!
If you could work with anyone who would it be?: I’d love to work with Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago. I’ve heard great things about their work and would love to immerse myself in their theatre practice.
Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: It would be Jennifer Jason Leigh and it would be called "Midnight Kiss"
If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed what would it be?: I’d love to go back to the 80s in New York and see a performance of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Hamburgers!!
What’s up next?: I’m working on a saucy, camp musical about a gender bending, bisexual, polyamorous housewife with a different lover for every day of the week. It’s called Handyman.
For more on Tiffany, visit www.tiffanybarton.com. For more on DIVA, visit facebook.com/creativecollaborations1