10 ON TUESDAY with Derek Van Barham

Happy rainy Tuesday, Chicago.

BroadwayWorld Chicago brings you 10 on Tuesday, featuring artists in and around the city. This week's questionnaire participant - Mr. Derek Van Barham!

1) Show you first auditioned for (and did you get the part)? The first real audition I did was a department wide cattle call for the Theatre Department at University of Mississippi (where I received my BFA in Acting). Ya know, where everyone watches each other audition. I was a freshman and had prepared a VERY serious dramatic piece of acting. As I watched everyone audition, I realized that the room lacked levity. Drama was doing well, but in a room of a few hundred nervous actors, comedy was slaying. I knew the opening bits of Paul Rudnick's Mr. Charles Currently of Palm Beach, so I switched monologues at the last second. The first words I ever uttered on stage were "What causes homosexuality? Well, I do!" In hindsight, it seems like the only possibility.

2) Where are you originally from? The South! I grew up in Monticello, Mississippi...a tiny town in south Mississippi. Our land is about 20 minutes away from Hazelhurst, where Crimes of the Heart is set. I think this explains a lot about me. I then went on to study at Ole Miss. Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Eudora Welty ... themz my roots!

3) Currently working on / recently closed? I am currently directing Three Days of Rain with Boho Theatre, which has been such a great experience. I'd worked for Boho as an actor, and am so happy to be directing for them. I also just closed PRISCILLA, Queen of the Desert with Pride Films & Plays, where I am an Artistic Associate. Next up is choreographing Shockheaded Peter with Black Button Eyes productions.

4) When did you first know you wanted a career in theatre? I always knew I wanted a career in the arts. I still feel like I'm at my best (and happiest) when the work I'm creating involves theatre, music, and dance. I did 8 years of forensics (speech and debate) so my brain works in a very collaborative way. I find a theme or an idea and start collecting the pieces of existing work that help articulate it. I think I've gotten comfortable in theatre because it seems to be the medium that can most easily involve the others.

5) What's your dream role production? Can I please play Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? As a director, I would love to help create Chicago's version of Sleep No More. I think The Den would be an excellent spot. The multiple floors and the cozy decor of all the common areas are perfect. Every time I see a show at The Den, I just look around and wonder why we don't have a late night immersive experience happening in their right now. A few companies could work on it together, because it would be quite an undertaking. But oh so worth it.

6) Favorite post-performance haunt? My couch. I would almost always rather a cheap wine, my own music, and permission to remove my shoes.

7) Living or dead, who would you drop everything to see perform? Today's Top Ten: Viola Davis, Cate Blanchett, Gillian Anderson, Nina Simone, Gladys Bentley, Fiona Apple, Fiona Shaw, Bjork, Beyonce, Taylor Mac.

8) What's your greatest vice/guilty pleasure? Showgirls and The Hours ... which are basically the same movie.

9) What are you currently listening to/watching/reading? I'm a big fan of LAna del Rey, and very into the character and theatre she has created around her. The same goes for Amanda Palmer, Karen O, and Olly Alexander from Years & Years. Currently listening to Dusty Springfield, Betty Who, and the new musical The View Upstairs by Max Vernon.

My fella and I are trying to stay afloat in this "you must watch everything on TV" age. My DVR is telling me that Riverdale, Fargo, The Americans, Veep, Feud, Rupaul's Drag Race, and The Leftovers are all on the agenda.

Reading books is such a treat, because I feel like I should always be reading scripts. The last cover-to-cover read was A Little Life by Hanya Yanaghara, and I can't say enough great things about it.

10) Describe the Chicago theatre community in three words: Inspiring. Exhausting. Brittle.


Do you have a Chicago actor, dancer, choreographer, designer, musical director, or director you'd like to see featured on 10 ON TUESDAY? Let us know!



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From This Author M. William Panek