5 questions: Tanya Marquardt on Duets for One

Duets for One
Duets for One

On the 5th anniversary of Club PuSh,we ask Club artists five questions.

Tanya Marquardt has worked with various forms including theatre, dance, site-specific installation, performance art, noise music and poetry. In mixing forms she finds something new and unexpected, something that she wants to share with her community, colleagues and friends.


1.  Club PuSh turns five this year. We're wondering what you were up to / obsessed with when you were five and how that informed the artist that you've become.

My Dad says that when I was five I was really into trying on sunglasses. We moved all the time and so a lot of my childhood is marked by trying on sunglasses in gas stations next to pancake houses. So, I guess I've always been into trying on masks, trying on different personalities and seeing what it felt like. Other than that, I was into kiddy pools and pizza.

2.  Duets for One has been described as both a meta-memoir and a montage-alogue. What the hell does that mean?

Duets for One is a series of fragmented memories from two distinct times in my life: 1. When I ran away from home at 16 and ended up in Vancouver and, 2. When I ran away at 30 to NYC. We are attempting to string or braid together these two times in my life to explore how one finds home out of a place of feeling alone, and to show how the same action (in this case running away) can play out at different times in a person's life. The juxtaposition of these different times creates a montage or cut-and-paste feeling, songs accumulating over time. Hence the term montage-alogue.

At some point we were using meta-memoir but I don't like that term as much. All memoirs, in some way are commenting on themselves. Memories do that, just by virtue of our engaging in the act of remembering them. So, yeah, montage-alogue is more accurate I think.

3.  What's the value of loneliness? How did that fit into the writing of Stray?

Loneliness forces you to learn about your pain. It allows for the space to make friends with your demons, and to move from one time in your life to another. That is my one sentence response. Loneliness can transform a person's life but it's very messy and happens in starts and stops, complete with all kinds of behaviour, which ranges from self-protective and self-loving to totally irrational and explosively self-destructive. Or at least that's how I have experienced loneliness. So there is value in it, but it comes after you've come out the other side of a lot of difficulty and usually at a cost.

Being alone for a year while writing Stray (my memoir) was awful. Ultimately it lead to a deep and thorough remembering of when I ran away at 16, and as an artist I am incredibly thankful for that material, but it sucked being that lonely and heartbroken. I overtaxed everyone and everything because I was lost in the mire. A lot of my friends got sick of my phone calls; my roommates started avoiding me and I almost left New York many times. I really took this depressive episode as far as I could take it without seriously harming myself.

The only thing I can say is that I think I have better tools for handling loneliness now (like therapy, meditation and yoga) as opposed to what I was doing in order to write (wine, anonymous sex, love letters to exes and uncontrollable weeping).

4.  Is Duets for One a musical?

No. Duets for One is a motherfucking punk-ass rock show extravaganza.

5.  How did New York inform Duets for One or how did making Duets illuminate your experience of New York?

Duets for One is informed by artists that I have loved for a long time, like Patti Smith and David Wojnarowitz. Smith is still around now but Wojnarowitz died of AIDS in the early 90s. These two artists heavily influenced the work, partially because I was introduced to them when I was a teenage runaway, long before I knew who they were, and also because there are similarities between my life story and theirs, particularly of Wojnarowitz. Both artists are from New York and I wanted to move to New York because I loved their work so much.

Duets for One totally illuminates my love of New York. I love being there and for the first time in a very long time I feel a sense of belonging. That is a rare feeling for me. I am trying to enjoy every moment of it.


Become a member of Theatre Conspiracy during the Club PuSh run and you could land two seats at Secret Spaces