THE INSIDER: MARTHA PLIMPTON
The Tony Nominee just might be our newest music critic.
Those of you with a drama club background might know that The Tony Awards are on Sunday, and if you don’t, here’s the deal:
This story was published on June 4, 2008.
Each Spring, Broadway celebrates its most talented crews with a giant awards show recapping a year of great theater.
For the past two years, actor Martha Plimpton has been a part of that acknowledgement – last year with Tom Stoppard’s time-bending epic The Coast of Utopia, and now for Top Girls, The Caryl Churchill comedy about feminism (sort of) that you probably read in English class.
The New York native has also done Shakespeare in the Park, a slew of indie movies, and ads for Calvin Klein. And unlike most public performers, she keeps up her own MySpace page, which is how we found her in the first place. Here’s what she said.
Top Girls is sort of a feminist classic. Do you think it’s still relevant now?
The play is from 1982, but it’s not that much different than the way we live our lives now… We’re still struggling with questions of social responsibility and the collective ethic – like health care, for example, we ask ourselves about that now.
The cast is all female. Is that cool?
It’s great! Each of the women are so incredibly smart and fantastic, and that’s really cool.
Did growing up in the city influence your work now? Do you wish you had a swing set?
No! I had plenty of swing sets! I had parks full of them! I think growing up in Manhattan was the ideal… but the New York that I came of age in doesn’t exist anymore, … The city is very much changed. I grew up on the Upper West Side, and there’s all these new, hideous buildings that might as well be built in Denver! I wouldn’t want to live in a building that looks like it’s in Denver!
If theater paid the same as film, would you forget about movies altogether?
Well if plays paid the same as movies, oh man, what a wonderful world that would be! But the economics of movie making makes it difficult for people to be imaginative with casting. In the theater, that’s not an issue. You find the person who can do the job you want them to do… If theater paid the same as film, I would do tons of plays.
Is I Shot Andy Warhol the best movie ever?
Oh, thank you! I don’t know, is it?
Top Five. Was it fun to make?
I loved making that movie! I didn’t have that many days on it, but I loved working with Lily Taylor, she’s great. And I liked all my costumes and I liked my hair doing that movie. I liked that hair a lot.
Do you really care about your hair? And care about fashion?
I was in the Calvin Klein ads once; I was eleven. But I don’t know if “care” is the right word. I appreciate beautiful clothes, I do, and I appreciate people who design beautiful clothes, and I appreciate people who make beautiful clothes, and I love wearing beautiful clothes.
And how’s your MySpace page?
It’s been nothing but fun! I mean, I keep my friends pretty minimal because I like to look at who’s requesting me, and I don’t accept everyone... But I’ve met some cool people, and I’ve gotten some strange writing work from it. I like finding bands a lot. I like finding new music, I’m kind of obsessed, and MySpace is one of the easiest ways to hear a whole song.
Like what songs?
Well, I just bought this Lightspeed Champion record; I’ll tell you, this guy is very interesting… He’s kind of insane, he’s English, and sounds sort of… what can I compare it to? He’s got like a slightly country meets a little bit of Syd Barrett meets some Wilco, and then throw in some, I don’t know, English pop like Morrissey. He wears a wig and he’s bizarre. Look him up.
Um, you should write music reviews for NYLON.
Ah, I would die! I would love to do that for you guys. I’m a little obsessed with music but I’m not like a guy, I’m not interested in minutia and I don’t read liner notes.
Last question: Give the young performers reading this some advice.
I didn’t have enough fun performing when I was younger. I was very perfectionist and because of that, I missed out on making some mistakes that would have been good for me to make. Now that I’m older, I enjoy my mistakes so much more – it took me a long time to figure that out, that mistakes are good.