Monday, November 16, 2009

buttercream & scotch - an interview with paige collette & tatiana pavela

I last saw Paige Collette in a brilliant performance set to Toto's "Africa" at the show #1 Female. This November she will be performing alongside Tatiana Pavela with a new work entitled Buttercream & Scotch.

JB: Dear Paige, your shows are always wildly fun and unpredictable. Give us a little hint about what to expect from Buttercream & Scotch?

PC: The show is definitely fun and funny. We play with words a lot. And food. There's a lot of elaborate drunk-dialing. Sponge-cake soaked with estrogen. It's kinda like an avant-garde "Sex in the City."

JB: I can only imagine what you'll do with a character named Aunt Gigi. Describe her a bit.

PC: Oh Gigi. I love her. She drinks a lot. She's broken hearted. She's a 46 year-old divorcee who's got a real mouth on her. She's very opinionated.  -yep, that's Gigi.

JB: Dear Tatiana, How did this show come together? What was the inspiration for it?

TP: One beautiful little bible: The Rules. This horrible, offensive dating guidebook from the 90's was passed onto me by Olga, an amazing Russian women whose appetite for life is stunted by her unhappy marriage. She passed on the book in hopes that I would find "The Man of My Dreams". I couldn't read the book without scoffing, so I created Mary Anne, a housewife looking for a home, to give the book its due. From there, creating Aunt Gigi seemed like a natural foil. Also, I would by lying if I said our own dating lives didn't play a huge part.

JB: What was the collaboration like?

TP: Interesting. And stressful and fun. This is my first time performing my own work, and Paige's first time collaborating with me, so we each had some things to go through. Certain things came really easy and were a breeze, while others gave me headaches. But we always know when we should just stop for the day and have a drink to solve things. There were a lot of drinks.

PC: We started playing around over a year ago. We decided we wanted to make a show together. I was getting out of a long relationship and diving into a new one, and that's what inspired a lot of my writing. Every few months, we would perform little "Buttercream" episodes around the city. Tatiana wanted to create her character with a more 1950s mindset, and I wanted to create my character with a more 1970s mindset. And this summer, I was living in Minneapolis, so Tatiana would email me her writing, and we'd try to piece things together bit by bit. But now I've been back in New York for about six weeks, and I gotta tell ya, it's a helluva lot easier to work together being in the same time zone!

JB: I love the photos (taken by George McConnell). Who designed your dress and apron?

TP: Thanks! I got the dress at a now closed vintage store on 2nd Ave: Love Saves the Day. It's been through a lot of love and repair. Apron is from Anthropologie - I'm sure any lady in NYC who is remotely interested in cooking or 50's kitsch has an apron from them.

JB: Did you have any style icons for this project?

TP: Mary Anne is pretty wrapped up in the heavy handed domesticity of the 1950's, so that's obviously there. While I can't point to anyone in particular, living in a run down NYC apartment plays a part. Hanging my great aunt's jewelry from a nail in my cracked walls, or putting on red lipstick in the bathroom with major water damage and rusted mirrors - that's Mary Anne. An absolute lady stuck in a run down apartment.

Aunt Gigi doesn't have a style icon. She will become a style icon! But the caftans from Paige's great-grandmother helped.

JB: I really enjoyed #1 Female. Besides you two and Erin Markey--who was particularly memorable in that show--who are some other performers and what performance spaces in the city do you recommend we seek out?

TP: Oh lord... Theatre of a Two-Headed Calf of course! They are doing Trifles at the Ontological early next year - make sure to check that out. Also, I'm sure this doesn't need any press push from me - but The New Electric Ballroom (currently at St. Ann's Warehouse). What Enda Walsh can do with language is like no other. I repeat, no other. Another up and coming playwright who I adore is B. Walker Sampson - his plays are very intelligent and very funny.

PC: And he's Tatiana's boyfriend! Love and art, love and art, it all goes together, baby. And it's true, he is totally talented and awesome. Other artists, I would say Lucy Alibar who was also a part of #1 Female, which I am so glad you enjoyed! Also, Half Straddle, a performance group featuring Tina Satter, Jess Barbagallo, and Chris Giarmo (Erin Markey works with them sometimes too). I love the performance group Radiohole. I love the work of playwright/director Young Jean Lee.

Lady Scoutington is a great burlesque-er and MC. Murray Hill, of course. Abby Browde, Mieke Duffly & Nikki Calonga, Julia May Jonas (aka Nellie Tinder), Julie Atlas Muz, Jennie Liu, Faye Driscoll. Witness Relocation is full of amazing performers -- Laura Berlin Stinger, Abby Browde, Sean Donovan, Orion Taraban, Mike Mikos, Heather Christian. And I love Heather Christian's music.

I also love Joseph Keckler. And Lisa Clair! And I love Amy Gironda. She's working on a new musical called "Camp Wanatachi" about girls who fall in love at a Christian summer camp. And Rachel Shukert is great too. And our choreographer Christine Elmo! Also, Samantha Johns and Savannah Reich are amazing theater-makers living in Minneapolis, but if you ever have a chance to see their work, you definitely should.

Also, special shout out to Lily Tomlin & Reno who will be doing a benefit at Dixon Place on November 23rd. Details here.

Royal Lace Paper Works (Chantal Pavageaux and Jake Margolin of the TEAM) have a residency with Mabou Mines, and they're working on a new piece called "The RV Party." I'm really excited about that. Chantal dresses up as a bumble bee!

As far as spaces I love... Dixon Place of course. The Ohio. The Collapsable Hole. Death By Audio is great for experimental music. Monkey Town. I miss spaces that have closed down, like the old Galapagos and old loft spaces where my friends used to host performances. I've never performed at HERE, but I'd like to someday. And I haven't been to the new Collective Unconscious space, but they used to put up great stuff. PS 122, The Kitchen. Ars Nova does some great stuff. Starr Space, the Bushwick Starr, the CATCH Series. New York is just magic, man. There's just so much here.

JB: How many stars for your day so far and why?

TP: As many in the sky! That's a lie, but now that I've been thinking about our project a little more, it's definitely added some sparkle to today. Thanks, Jeffery!

PC: 3 stars. It's Monday, and I'm working my day job. But now I'm drinking some peppermint tea. And last week I ordered a pair of blue Aldo flats on sale, and they just arrived in the mail today. I just have a good feeling about the rest of this week! XOXOX



Shows are on Friday, November 20 at 10 PM & Saturday, November 21 at 10 PM

Dixon Place - 161 A Chrystie Street (b/t Rivington & Delancey)

Tickets are $15 ($12 for students & seniors)

For tickets visit
or call 212 219 0736

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