'Dirty Barbie' returns to Salisbury

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 25, 2012

By Katie Scarvey
Denise Stewart premiered her one-woman show, “Dirty Barbie,” in Salisbury last year.
It was an auspicious beginning for a show that’s on the rise. “Dirty Barbie” is hot…and it’s soon going international.
The play, Stewart has said, is about “the secret life of little girls.”
“Dirty Barbie” is code, Stewart said: “Everyone’s Barbies were having sex.”
In the show, images from Stewart’s own childhood in Mooresville appear on screen, while Stewart tells stories and acts them out.
And yes, it was a somewhat dysfunctional family. While Stewart — who confesses she grew up largely unsupervised — had to deal with a lot of bad stuff, including her mother’s alcoholism, she found a way to survive, and creative play was an important refuge.
“Dirty Barbie and Other Girlhood Tales” has been embraced everywhere it’s been performed, with venues asking for repeat performances and people returning to see it more than once.
“That’s very exciting, as far as a one-person show is concerned,” Stewart says.
She’s done many talkbacks after the shows, which have been very gratifying and encouraging — and which have almost served as a second act to the show, she says.
The show has evolved somewhat, with Stewart using audience feedback to revise it along the way to make it smoother, tighter and funnier.
One thing that hasn’t changed, she says, is the Sally Hansen spray-on pantyhose in “light glow” she applies before every show. On the heels of a great first year of performances, Stewart will be taking “Dirty Barbie” to the prestigious Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland, doing 24 performances during the month of August.
Performing at this festival, Stewart says, has been a long-time dream — and she’s thrilled to have landed a great venue: a beautiful building beside Edinburgh Castle.
Fortunately for Salisbury, we don’t have to travel to Scotland to see “Dirty Barbie” again. Stewart is bringing the show back to the Looking Glass Artist Collective’s black box theater May 4-5, sponsored by Sidewalk Deli.
Stewart, who has an MFA in playwriting from the Univerity of Virginia, grew up in Mooresville, and she’s hoping that more of her Mooresville friends will get to see the show this time around.
Her Salisbury friends are important to her as well. A graduate of Catawba College, Stewart says Salisbury is always at her “heart center” and a place she’d always want to bring new material.
After her upcoming performances in Salisbury, Stewart will perform the show again in Charlottesville and then take it to New York City and Washington, D.C. in July.
After Edinburgh, Stewart is hoping to do a more extensive set of dates in Europe and the United States.
She has plans for a new show that might be the “after-story” to “Dirty Barbie,” she says.
It will also be based on family stories, since there’s no lack of those, Stewart says.
Lucky for us.
• • •
“Dirty Barbie and other girlhood tales” will be at the Looking Glass Artist Collective’s black box theater at 7:30 Friday, May 4 and at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 5. The show is appropriate for ages 13 and up.
Tickets will be available at the door, first come first served. Doors open 30 minutes before start of show.
You can purchase tickets in advance at deedeestewartproject.ticketleap.com.