The very first play I read as a Literary Manager happened to be written by Tiffany Antone. It was terrific. And thus, Tiffany completely messed up my expectations, setting a bar of hoping that every play ever submitted to me would be an exhilarating find.
After reading a second play of hers—even more terrific—I had to know more about the woman behind the fantastical and funny yet profound and truthfully human worlds she created on the page. We met for tea. Happy ending: We became friends and collaborators.
One year ago, Tiffany left L.A. and moved back to her hometown of Prescott, Arizona. She did it for many right reasons, but that doesn’t stop me from being miffed about it. I love that Boston Court is giving me this excuse to get to know more about her new writing space. . .
Me: Alrighty, let’s start with the overall “landscape” here. You’ve given me photos of three different spaces. Please briefly describe for us what each space is.
Tiffany: The first space is where I actually work—at my parents’ table, in the kitchen, nearest to the snacks. I like the light here, and the plants, and I like the open space. I’ve never been a fan of working in my room, much to the disappointment of countless roommates who had to just deal with my desk/workspace inhabiting the living room. So it makes sense that I’d so easily surrender my “office.” Or perhaps it’s because I’ve never really had an office that could just be for my work. Either way, the kitchen is a happy working ground. Did I mention it was closest to the snacks?
Me: Oh yes, we did. Don’t worry, we’ll get into that more in a bit. What about the second location?
Tiffany: That is my actual desk, which lives in a spare room that my parents have lovingly handed over to me to have as an office/storage space. Unfortunately it is much more “storage space” than “office,” which is why the desk is a wreck and why I typically let it hide under a sheet. I do all of my writing on my laptop since it is a Mac and we have completely fallen in love, but the PC on my actual desk does duty as a website updater and back-up storage. I actually feel guilty for neglecting it as I do, but I can’t bear to get rid of it until I go for broke and purchase another desktop—Mac of course!—because I am always hyper-paranoid that technology will take a crap and then I wouldn’t have a back up and my head would explode. . . Tragedy!
Me: And the third location?
Tiffany: That is what I wished my desk looked like. However, if this were my desk, well, it’s way too small for all the things I accumulate when I’m working—namely my laptop, mouse, printouts, and rows of writing snacks.
Me: I promise you, Tiff, we’re getting to the snacks. Very soon. But first let’s return in general to your family’s dining table. Since that’s where you actually write, that’s where I’ll place my standard question: On a scale of 1 to 10, how much did you clean up this space before taking those particular photos for me?
Tiffany: [laughing] Thank you for asking! I am looking at the picture and imagining how tidy it could have looked had I actually tidied it up. But the answer is—not at all. I was mid-bite on lunch, and my parents’ cat was there stalking my meal, and I looked up from what I was doing—the all-important Facebook check-in—and thought “This is the moment I should capture for Sara!” because it was so representative of how I work: cluttered, multi-tasking, and with crumbs.
Me: Okay, the moment you’ve been waiting for! I actually pre-wrote this question, though I had no idea you would be so intent on talking about it regardless. But here is the question as I planned it: Your writing space strikes me as very food-related. What is on that plate in front of your laptop—and why does the cat want it so badly? Plus the Pringles, the can of Coke, the water bottle—and your viewpoint is that you’re facing the kitchen. Frankly, I’m confused. Because you’re a very prolific writer, and you’re adorably slender, so there’s no way you’re always eating while you write!
Tiffany: Awww, thank you! Here’s my theory: I am such a hyper little pixie that I burn it all off. Plus, I don’t really break for meals easily when I’m working. So what happens is that I work in a never-ending graze. And if I need a moment to think, I have to fuel the thinking with a snack. It’s ridiculous. In this picture I had just made myself some halibut sticks—
Me: Halibut sticks?
Tiffany: So much better than traditional fish sticks! Which is why Ceasar is staring at them so desirously. My office desk has all these little nooks and crannies in it that, when I’m working there, are always filled with treats—chocolates or beef jerky, or I went through this one play where all I wanted were Funyons—yuck!
Me: What on earth play were you writing that made you crave Funyons?!?
Tiffany: The Funyons were during “Twigs and Bone” and I have no friggin idea why!
Me: Neither do I! I’m going to commentate a moment for our readers, to share that last year I had the honor of directing “Twigs and Bone” as part of UCLA’s Marianne Murphy Reading Series. I would describe this play as a family gothic melodrama/thriller making use of Irish storytelling tradition. None of which remotely says “Funyons” to me. I’m so glad I didn’t know about your Funyon obsession back then. . . It would’ve really gotten in my head, and I have no idea how I could have rectified that working on the text with the actors.
Tiffany: My snacks/plays relationships are kind of like a pregnant woman at the keys, only I’m, like, pregnant with the play. [She laughs.]
Tiffany: Ah, the runway shots was an Express ad that had arrived in the mail with a tantalizing “Save $30 off your order!”coupon inside. I have nowhere to wear anything fancy right now, nor do I have cash to go shopping with, but I think I was enjoying the idea of shopping, and how nice it would be to have somewhere fancy to go. “The Instructions” is this massive book I spontaneously ordered from Amazon after reading one review. I’m really loving it. It’s about a young boy who may/may not be the Messiah, and it takes place over two days at school where he is in the detention/troubled student program. . . and I think some dark twisted things come about.
Me: Ooh, that’s a good plug!
Tiffany: And “The Viewpoints Book” is one that I really love to go back to time and again. Actually, I went out to my parents’ garage only the week before to fetch this book, because I was going to be teaching a Master Class on ensemble work. But when I went out to the garage, all of my theater books had gotten wet from some apparent snowmelt having slithered its way under the garage door. I open the box and I lift out this book and it’s all spongy and black with mold!
Me: No! Another reason why snow is evil! And another reason why I shouldn’t have l let you leave Southern California!
Tiffany: I was so upset. In that copy of the book, I had written notes on the pages, cornered the exercises I loved best. . . and I had to throw it in the garbage. The rest of the books were all salvageable, although I had to part with some dust jackets, and they now have a wrinkled, neglected look to them that makes me grit my teeth at the lack of foresight I had in leaving them out there in the first place. But, I ordered a new copy—
Me: And that’s the one in the photograph.
Tiffany: Yes. And now I get to re-read it and re-doodle in it, and it’s a relief to have it back in my grasp. None of these items relate to my current projects, by the way, except perhaps “The Viewpoints Book,” which always gets me paying attention to the world around me in new and exciting ways.
Me: So what are you writing right now?
Tiffany: Oy. . . I’m working on a monster of a “Cirque du Soleil”-ish piece about the sexual slave trade and a nice little—and contrastingly affordable—absurdist piece about five sort-of-characters trapped in a white room.
Tiffany: I love the colors and the space, and the shabby-chic nature of the scene. It has an “I have an artistic soul and it helps me decorate” feel to it. I imagine the owner of this desk space also inhabits a pretty well decorated house. And right now I’m living like a refugee of sorts at my parents’ house, mostly out of boxes. I also like to believe that if this were my writing space, it would be sacred and uncluttered and I would write amazing things there.