New Yorker Cartoonist Victoria Roberts Pens New Offering at San Miguel Playhouse
By Fredric Dannen
When cartoonist Victoria Roberts settled in San Miguel three years ago, it was after a lifetime of what she calls “to-ing and fro-ing.”
Born in New York City in 1957, Roberts—who is also an author, monologist, actor, director, filmmaker, and PEN lecturer—was the daughter of Inez Roberts, an Argentinean-born advertising executive. In 1961, when Victoria was four, her mother moved her to Mexico City. Nine years later, Inez secured the advertising account for Qantas Airways, and she and Victoria relocated to Sydney, Australia.
Roberts’s first thought was that Australia was an awfully long way from America, and she was homesick. But Sydney proved to be the ideal crucible for her emerging talents. She went to all manner of variety shows and was immersed in British and Australian humor. While still in high school, she got a job in an animation studio. She attended the Sydney College of the Arts, studied printmaking, and dropped out after receiving a grant to make an animated short film called Goodbye Sally Goldstein.
Meanwhile, Roberts got to know some of Australia’s leading cartoonists, including Matt Leunig, whose work appeared in the radical/satirical magazine Nation Review. At 19, Victoria was creating her first cartoon strip, My Sunday, for that magazine; she illustrated the hypothetical Sundays of people such as Gertrude Stein and Marcel Duchamp.
While at art school, Victoria took a weekend job at a nursing home. “I became very fond of a lot of the patients,” she recalls. “Many of them were from a generation we call the ‘old Australia,’ and their accents are quite distinctive.” Out of that experience came a composite character, a kimono-clad Australian octogenarian named Nona Appleby, the subject of many of Roberts’s best-loved New Yorker cartoons.
Roberts moved back to her birthplace, New York City, in the 1980s and became an illustrator for the New York Times (Jerelle Kraus, her editor, is a part-time San Miguel resident). In 1988, she joined the staff of The New Yorker, and within a year had contributed a cover, a feat considered the highest honor in cartooning.
Since 2004, Roberts has appeared on stage as her iconic character Nona Appleby. Her solo show, Nona, opened at the National Museum for Women in Washington, DC, in 2005 and went on to Urban Stages in New York City.
Now Victoria has written a new show called The World According to Nona Appleby. The show will have its debut at the San Miguel Playhouse, for two performances only, on Saturday, January 26, at 7pm, and Sunday, January 27, at 3pm. Reserved advance tickets are 200 pesos, available online via sanmiguelplayhouse.com, or boletocity.com, or at the Boleto City ticket kiosk on the second floor of the Mercado Sano, Ancha de San Antonio 123, Monday through Saturday, 11am to 5pm. Tickets at the door (starting one hour before showtime) are 250 pesos.
The San Miguel Playhouse is located at Avenida Independencia 82 and features free secured parking and taxi concierge service.
The World According to Nona Appleby
Featuring Victoria Roberts, with Alberto Macedo on piano
Sat, Jan 26, 7pm
Sun, Jan 27, 3pm
San Miguel Playhouse,
Avenida Independencia 82
200 pesos advance/250 pesos at the door
Boleto City, Mercado Sano, Ancha de San Antonio 123
Online tickets: sanmiguelplayhouse.com or boletocity.com