How Barbra Streisand’s design statement inspired a hit play – The Forward

How Barbra Streisand’s design statement inspired a hit play – The Forward

For decades, Barbara Streisand’s fans have been clamoring for a biography of her.

For decades, it has failed to achieve this. even when Jackie Kennedy She offered herself the position of editor, but she simply wasn’t ready to do the review. So, when cheery headlines announced that Streisand was finally set to release his memoir, the average reader could have been forgiven for assuming that the star was a debut author.

But actually, Streisand’s autobiography, My name is Barbara, It is her second book.

The first one is – My passion for design, a coffee-table-style tome filled with lavish photographs taken by the author herself—is already more than a decade old. In this book, which she published in 2010, Streisand did not take stock of her career or personal life, but rather of something no less important: her sprawling mansion and compound in Malibu, every detail of which she appears to have carefully considered herself. It features Baroque furnishings, bespoke accessories and centuries-old carpets. My passion for design It shows what happens when correct “good taste” obsessively collides with the bravado of scoundrels at no expense spared. The book quickly emerged as a classic, and inspired me to write a play that became an unexpected hit off-Broadway.

The book’s most satirical chapter depicts Streisand’s basement, which was unlike any other underground warehouse. To house various collectibles acquired over the years, Streisand created the equivalent of faux vintage stores on Main Street. The basement contains a doll shop, a clothing store, a gift “shop” and other faux shops, with a cobblestone street to stroll along. When my husband brought the book home from our local library, we were amazed by the sight of this mall built for one person. Thinking about the employees Streisand might hire to attend her shopping trips, she wondered, “How would you like to be the guy who works there?”

That was the most important joke I ever made – because this surreal and bizarre aspect of the Streisand house inspired my play, Jupiter and the cellar. While I had enjoyed a disappointing Broadway debut twenty years earlier (twilight gold)and a moderate Off-Broadway play a decade later (last Sunday of June), Jupiter and the cellar It was every playwright’s unattainable dream: critical and commercial success.

The play follows an unemployed actor, Alex Moore, who gets a job as a fake shopkeeper in an underground mall. When the lady of the house comes to the “shop,” the two bargain over imaginary prices until a complicated friendship is born. At one point, the imagined Streisand explains why her first book is not an autobiography: “What’s left to say, right?” Apparently, a lot – because My name is Barbara It will run to approximately a thousand pages.

In order to write my play, I devoured my passion for design, Honed in on every detail that seems to offer insight into the author’s inner life. When I imagined myself (or my alter ego Alex) in conversation with Streisand, I tried to treat her just like any other fictional character I was writing. When this process works, you really feel like you’ve gotten to know another person deeply, if only through imagination. In this case, I can feel how the mission of improving her home and showcasing it to the world may have provided a much-needed outlet for this star’s restless energy, as well as her need for validation. When the play premiered in 2013, I learned that Streisand had not only heard about the show, but suspected that I was spying on her staff who were feeding me details. (Barbara, if you’re reading this, I swear there’s enough material in the book.)

Like many books of this type, My passion for design It also serves as a time capsule of a particular cultural moment. In 2010, the era of the McMansion was in full swing: The scale of the preferred home was enormous, and a plethora of home improvement shows permeated the television landscape, catering to those who could make their homes an expression of personal identity. Streisand’s obsession with every detail of her compound — at one point, she proudly describes matching paint colors to the exact color of the eggs her hens lay — was an extreme version of the comfort-seeking sweeping the country.

Even for the most modest homeowners and renters, shopping has come to mean clicking on Amazon. Attendance at movie theaters declined as Netflix mailed DVDs. And soon live streaming will keep us pinned to our couches. The Internet has already become a part of our lives, and is just beginning to take over. Rereading the book now, with the COVID-19 pandemic galvanizing the reckoning on American wealth inequality, it’s impossible not to notice the lack of self-awareness that can only be achieved in an era when the wealthy have felt far less pressure to hide their privilege.

But in the early days of lockdown in 2020, My passion for design It seemed eerily prescient. As she portrayed herself in the book, Streisand dedicated her life to getting everything right, creating a personal utopia she would never want to leave. (It is worth noting that Agreed only To make the road trip comedy of 2012 A journey of self-reproach If it could be filmed within 45 minutes of her house.) Haven’t we all taken on a similar task while hiding from the virus?

Early in the pandemic, the original superstar Jupiter and the cellar, Michael Urie performed live online from his living room. I was nervous about this new form of theatre, which lacks the traditional give-and-take between audience and performer. How can I play my comedy without any laughter? But somehow, this closed-door version seemed a perfect fit for a play about staying at home. Thousands of Streisand fans, sheltering in their own sanctuaries (and perhaps even the icon herself), watched the play, which raised money for struggling entertainment professionals. It was also moving to see a play about this particular star, whose personal mythology has become so important to her fans — especially Jews and gays, two tribes to which I belong. Many of us have defined the different chapters in our lives through Streisand’s evolving recordings, films, and even hairstyles. That night, communicating with her was also a way to communicate with each other.

No matter how popular Streisand’s memoir proves, I will always be partial to it My passion for design – And not just because it enhanced my career. Streisand would probably use it My name is Barbara To craft its public image with self-consciousness, and perhaps settle some scores. But in her first book, she reveals a lot about herself without necessarily intending to. Her perfectionism, her need for control, her reckless enthusiasm for collecting, and her impatience with a world that rarely lives up to her expectations are all there for the perceptive reader. This was the Streisand she tried to put on stage – driven, vulnerable, a prisoner of her fame, and a little silly. People who know her have told me that I came very close to the truth; And I’m very much looking forward to comparing Streisand’s version of herself with my version.

Months ago My name is Barbara When it first appeared, memoir lore was already spreading on the Internet. One article revealed that the book is on its way to final publication It was cut off From 1040 to 992 pages. Don’t be surprised if those 48 missing pages are released one day in a higher-priced collector’s edition. As we learned from my passion for design, It’s not Streisand’s habit of throwing anything away.

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