Saturday, February 19, 2011

FRIGID New York Interview - Tania Katan of "Saving Tania's Privates"

By Byrne Harrison
Photo by Angela Ellsworth

Name: Tania Katan
Show: Saving Tania’s Privates
Website: &

How did you first get involved in theatre?

Like most people, I got cancer. Isn’t that how it works? You get sick and you either find religion or art. Thank fucking God I found art!

Who are your biggest influences?

Gilda Radner, Tracey Ullman, Harry Chapin, Holly Hughes, Bob Flanagan, Sandra Bernhard, The Carter Family, Lisa Kron, Joelle Katan, Elliott Richards, and on and on and on.

Tell me a little bit about your show.

Saving Tania’s Privates is like "Run Lola Run" meets "The Singing Detective" and swings by "The L Word" for a cocktail! Lights up, I’m standing onstage being felt up by a male TSA guard. Do I shrink away and comply with his demands, or distract him with a joke and start running? Do I move-in with the brooding dyke who looks like Pony Boy or do I move in with my French mother? Do I opt for chemotherapy and a mastectomy, or radiation and a lumpectomy? Can I race for a cure when I’m not cured? Can my best friend really contract HIV when I still have cancer? Saving Tania’s Privates invites the audience to enter a world where surgeons are ninjas and best friends don’t get AIDS; a world where running topless is legal, disco never dies, and scars are celebrated. It explores whether bad girlfriends can give you cancer and whether good ones can take it away.

What inspired you to write it?

I wrote the book first, a memoir entitled "My One Night Stand With Cancer." Then I realized that this is a story about the body, the sick body, the silly body, the dying body, the living body and yet it was sort of idle inside of a book. Because theatre is such a live and active form of storytelling, it became imperative for me to adapt the book into a play. Although I didn’t have ME in mind to perform the one-woman play — DUH! — I came to realize how important and urgent it is for me to invite an audience to bear witness to my story, to confirm that these events really occurred, and to show them that I am still alive, able to embody this story, visually and textually answering questions that readers of the book continue to ask me.

Who are your collaborators and how long have you been working with them?

I’ve been lucky enough to work with friend/producer: AJ Epstein; friend/Director Carys Kresny, and friend/Co-Producer: Liza Comtois for about three years! My friend/Stage Manager, Emily Reitman is a new addition to STP team and friend/Stage Manager Devorah Spadone handed her the baton. I adore and respect all of the team personally and professionally, which allows for us to go deeper, explore the script and performance more fully, and, honestly, crack each other up A LOT! If we could afford team uniforms, I’m certain we would all wear them, at all times! And, of course, the well-known visual and performance artist, Angela Ellsworth. For some odd reason she has chosen to live with me and be my constant life collaborator. Thank Art!

What's next for you after FRIGID?

Off to Los Angeles to perform a new solo show Thank You and Good Luck, which will explore auditioning for civil rights as I try to become America’s next Lesbian Bachelor on ABC’s reality show "The Bachelor." It will premiere at the 18th Street Art Center as a part of Richard Newton’s project Have You Seen My Privacy through the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time.

Also, I’m working on a second book entitled "A Laugh Riot." It’s about cracking people up while subverting perceptions. Funny activism with serious impact!

And finally, if you could say anything to your potential audience, what would it be?

What you are about to see is a comedy. And like all good comedies, there are many catastrophes within that framework. There are moments when the characters will find themselves in compromised positions, feeling othered and unable to move forward. Sometimes a character will choose to French kiss another character instead of getting a biopsy. Sometimes a character will believe that they are cooler than they are based on alcohol consumption. That is the beauty of humor; humor springs from a place of fear, discomfort, vulnerability, and otherness and yet somehow allows us to feel less fear, discomfort and otherness. My hope is that you will come see Saving Tania’s Privates and witness the acts of falling in love, breaking up, awkward dance moves, hiding in hyper-reality, blown veins, and laughing at inappropriate moments.

Saving Tania's Privates

UNDER St. Marks (94 St. Marks Place)


Wed 2/23 @ 7:30pm, Fri 2/25 @ 9pm, Sat 2/26 @ 1pm, Tue 3/1 @ 6pm, Wed 3/2 @ 7:30pm, & Sat 3/5 @ 10pm

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