Timothy Britten Parker by Ron Rifkin

Part of the Editor's Choice series.

BOMB 56 Summer 1996
Issue 56 056  Summer 1996

Naked Angels, the ad-hoc theater company of which I am a member, has been home/clubhouse to several notable young actors: Marisa Tomei, Lili Taylor, Fisher Stevens, Patrick Breen, Rob Morrow, and Gina Gershon. Not as well known, perhaps, but just as unique is the remarkably eccentric (Would he mind being so labeled? No actor should.) Toby Parker.

How to describe him? With his long, tightly wound spring of a body and a skeptical smile, Toby is the actorly equivalent of a banked fire that has been quietly smoldering, only to startle you by suddenly bursting into flame all over again.

Currently on Broadway in the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Rent, Toby is one of those people who is bound to garner more and more recognition beyond the cult-like status he enjoys at Naked Angels.

Watching Toby come of age as an actor is an object lesson in the maturation of an artist. Some actors have a tough go of it when they’re young—I don’t know, the picture hasn’t formed fully yet (I include myself here). Perhaps you don’t realize just how good you can be without asking for acceptance or seeking approval. I suspect Parker has had to privately and painfully grow into his skin. (The horror of being a young actor is that you have to do this in public.)

At Naked Angels, audiences have been privileged to watch this amazing trajectory of increasing boldness, risk, and confidence. Toby has played, with more and more freedom, an astonishing range of characters from spleenetic lounge crooners in Jersey to broken businessmen and ruined romantics. I can’t wait to see what happens when the Establishment (directors, producers, and other power-devils), gives Parker his full due. Or when he claims it like the subversive he is.

—Ron Rifkin

Justin Vivian Bond by Joy Episalla
Justin Vivian Bond 1
Becca Blackwell by Jim Fletcher
Becca Blackwell Bomb 01

The actors chat about performing masculinity, transitioning, and Blackwell’s one-person show They, Themself and Schmerm.

Sharon Fogarty by Zachary Small
Sharon Fogarty Bomb 1

“They said, ‘You’ll be in charge of the children and the dogs.’ And I said, ‘Okay! But what does that even mean?’”

Object Collection by ​Aaron Schimberg
Object Collection Bomb 1

“If there is a despairing quality to our work, it is despairing of the fact that once upon a time there used to be an earnest revolutionary spirit in this country.”

Originally published in

BOMB 56, Summer 1996

Featuring interviews with Martha Plimpton, Irvine Welsh, Jeffrey Vallance, Nick Pappas, Mark Eitzel, Lee Breuer, Ornette Coleman, Cheick Oumar Sissoko, Janwillem van de Wetering, and Ada Gay Griffin & Michelle Parkerson on Audre Lorde.

Read the issue
Issue 56 056  Summer 1996