Tony Torn talks about going from downtown NYC to Broadway, his time in Reza Abdoh’s troupe, and I tried my best to probe him for as many family secrets as I could! His blood runs deep: Rip Torn, Geraldine Page, Sissy Spacek and even Edgar Allen Poe! When Tony isn’t acting or directing, he’s usually running around Page 22, a performance/literary/theater salon and acting space in Chelsea. They just launched a new website, so be sure to check out all the goings-on taking place at Page 22.
***NOW FOR THE INTERVIEW***
SB: Tony, you and most your family have spent most of your lives on stage, how are you feeling about the one you’re on now and what’s it like to share the spotlight with a cat?
TT: Breakfast at Tiffany’s is my first Broadway show. I went into it expecting it to be a wildly different experience but in most ways ways it isn’t. The Cort Theater is not the biggest theater I’ve performed in (That would be the Amsterdam Opera House while touring with Richard Foreman), and the eight shows a week schedule is heavy, but I’ve done that before too (even in a Reza Abdoh show, Bogeyman at LATC…doing 8 shows a week of Abdoh is CRAZY!).
The big difference is the intangible sense of importance that fills a Broadway gig because of the money and cultural capital involved. And for me, the intense legacy emotions it brings up…both my parents (Rip Torn and Geraldine Page) played Broadway many times when I was growing up, they actually met doing Sweet Bird Of Youth on Broadway.
As for the cats, I love working with them, but I am intensely jealous of the press attention they are getting. Divas!
SB: You and your family have an extensive history with Broadway and flamboyant men, is this the reason you’ve stepped away from the more experimental theater communities to spend some time with a Truman Capote story. Did you ever meet Capote as a young person? Was he a friend of your families? Was Capote influential on Reza Abdoh and your time with his acting collective?
TT: Despite the fact that my mother was well known for her role in Capote’s A Christmas Memory (she won an Emmy for it in 1966), I really made no connection between her and the family and never met him. I only knew him as the weird-frog like man in a film spoof I liked as a kid, Murder By Death. By the time I made the connection, and discovered that I loved Capote’s writing, both he and my mother were gone. Capote was never mentioned as an influence by Reza Abdoh either.
The main reason it makes sense for me to do this play is because if there is one character in Breakfast At Tiffany’s that can be best served up by a downtown weirdo, it’s Rusty Trawler, who is a multi-millionare, sexually infantile, Nazi sympathizing uptown weirdo. My daughter Miranda said when she saw me in it, “Dad, you’re really good at playing weirdos!” with a charming mix of pride and mortification. If the shoe fits….