Those who watched Breaking Bad with the fervor it deserved are in for a shock the first time they attend a show at Kitchen Dog Theater. That's because Saul Goodman's secretary, Francesca, is usually onstage performing or welcoming the crowd with a big "Howdy!" before the show.
If you're familiar at all with the Dallas theater scene, you know Francesca is really Tina Parker, co-artistic director of Kitchen Dog Theater. Before Parker assumes the role of Penny, a fearless political candidate in Peter Sinn Nachtrieb's The Totalitarians, from November 20-December 19 at The Green Zone, she took the time to fill out our survey of serious, fun, and sometimes ridiculous questions.
Name: Tina Parker
Role in The Totalitarians: Penny
Previous work in the DFW area: Fifty-plus shows as director/designer/actor with Kitchen Dog Theater; roles with Shakespeare Dallas, Watertower Theatre, and Undermain Theatre; and multiple readings for Arts and Letters Live at the DMA.
Hometown: I was born in Woodville, Texas, but have spent most of my time in Dallas, so I claim it as my home base.
Where you currently reside: In Oak Cliff — OC, baby!
First theater role: A spinning top in a Christmas pageant when I was in kindergarten, because I was abnormally tall for my age. And a ham.
Moment you decided to pursue a career in theater: Though I toyed with the idea of being a horse jockey in first grade (but was already too tall, much to my chagrin) and a doctor, according to my compelling fifth grade autobiography entitled “Just Little Ol’ Me,” I have always known I’d be in the arts in some capacity.
Most challenging role you’ve played: Two roles who are both strangely named Mary and both directed by Tim Johnson: In The Jungle of Cities by Bertolt Brecht and Detroit by Lisa D’Amour. Both took me to the limit physically/emotionally every night. Now that I say that, most Kitchen Dog roles have done this to me.
Special skills: Can laugh like Snoopy and make dolphin sounds. Lots of weird voices.
Something you’re REALLY bad at: Delegating
Last book you read: Men, Women & Children, for a role I was auditioning for.
Favorite movie(s): Too many to list, but out right now I would say Sicario: provocative story, solid performances, and don’t even get me started on the cinematography!
Favorite musician(s): I heart the jams! Currently hot in my playlist circulation are: Tame Impala, King Tuff, Leon Bridges, Foxygen, Wilco, and old-school Van Halen.
Favorite play(s): Too many to list. I can’t decide!
Favorite musical(s): Hedwig and the Angry Inch — still my all-time fave.
Favorite actors/actresses: Judy Dench, Cate Blanchett, Ben Kingsley, Kate Winslet, Phillip Seymour Hoffman (RIP), Daniel Day Lewis, Cherry Jones, Mark Ruffalo, Julianne Moore, Bryan Cranston, Michael Fassbender, and many more who I am not remembering.
Favorite food: All things Tex-Mex and Italian. I also have a huge sweet tooth. Note to self: Go on a diet.
Must-see TV show(s): I do love me some Project Runway and Top Chef. Loved the first season of Better Call Saul.
Something most people don’t know about you: I almost always buy a piece of jewelry when I go on trips to remember the trip by. Also, I'm obsessed with roller coasters.
Place in the world you’d most like to visit: Right now: Tahiti! Or maybe Australia.
Pre-show warm-up: Twenty-minute physical/vocal warm-up with the cast, then whatever I have superstitiously set as my routine for that particular show: water consumption, snack at certain time, etc. Each show is different. Haven’t set one for Penny yet ... will probably involve eating early and some kind of energy potion.
Favorite part about your current role: She lives in the moment, says what she thinks, and regrets nothing.
Most challenging part about your current project: It requires a lot of energy to keep Penny alive. And you have to do it all in heels and power suits.
Most embarrassing onstage mishap: In my first KDT show, Sore Throats by Howard Brenton, the strap to my slip broke midcombat and it was a whole lot of boobs/the hiding of boobs for that audience during that act. Lordy.
Career you’d have if you weren’t in theater: Trainer in the cat circus.
Favorite post-show spot: Used to be Ships Lounge. No new place yet.
Favorite thing about Dallas-Fort Worth: We have an amazing arts community: vibrant, creative, supportive of each other. It's a very cool time to be here as an artist.
Most memorable theater moment: What gets me every time is when you finally, finally, hit a performance in stride with your cast mates, firing on all cylinders. That is one amazing ride.