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New comedy prays for twisted laughs

Topher Payne in'The Divine Sister'

Never known to shy away from gay-themed or bawdy material, the Process Theatre opens its 10th anniversary season this week with the comedic “The Divine Sister,” starring a duo who have worked together consistently over the years — Topher Payne (also a GA Voice columnist) and Process Artistic Director DeWayne Morgan, both openly gay.

“Sister” is the latest from the hands of Charles Busch, author of “Vampire Lesbians of Sodom,” “Die, Mommie, Die!” and “Psycho Beach Party.” We caught up with Payne and Morgan to discuss the play and the future of Process Theatre.

You’ve played so many diverse roles in your career, Topher, from David Frost to Joan Crawford. How does playing a nun fit into your oeuvre?

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Fall Preview: ‘Wolves,’ ‘Divine Sister’ among fall theater debuts

Theater preview

As memories of summer fade away, fall is now officially here, with some sparkling theater options, including several new shows.

In its 25th anniversary year, Actor’s Express is presenting one of its patented world premieres – gay playwright Steve Yockey’s “Wolves” (Nov. 8 – Dec. 2), directed by out lesbian Melissa Foulger. It’s very gay themed, starting as a gay man brings a wolf home as a one-night stand, to the dismay of his roommate. Hell breaks loose from there.

“It’s really about the conflation of sex and fear in modern society, the overlapping mix of what’s sexy and what’s dangerous — all wrapped up in a sort of modern fairy tale narration,” Yockey says.

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Topher Payne: Bringing the fight for equality home

Playwright and writer Topher Payne

The producer of a talk show was looking for a married gay couple living in an area where their marriage isn’t recognized. My friend Jeffery, who has his own show on LOGO and a book deal and is generally way more successful than I am, put the producer in touch with me. My husband and I both had work commitments on the day they were filming, so our talk show debut was not meant to be, but we still had a pleasant conversation.

I’ve never been prescreened for a talk show, but I watched every episode of “Oprah: Season 25 Behind the Scenes,” which was actually really solid prep work. I answered all of her questions about the logistics of health insurance, how we went about changing our names, and the business of daily life.

I explained why Obama’s endorsement of marriage equality mattered. I gave a few human interest slice-of-life anecdotes, including a dog story. Overall, it felt like a great rehearsal for my fantasy interview on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, which is my Mount Everest. One day, Terry Gross. One day, you will be mine.

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Topher Payne: In Mississippi, your husband could just as easily have been your cousin

Playwright and writer Topher PaynePreppy offered our guest room to a coworker in town from Miami, meaning there’s even more conversations than usual around our house involving phrases like “loss prevention” and “opportunities.”

“Opportunities” in particular is a major buzz word at his company. It’s a euphemism for “total fail,” but they’re savvy enough not to say that. But I’ve been with my husband long enough to translate what he means when he says there’s “opportunities” in our kitchen sink.

I’ve been spending my evenings playing Auntie Mame, which also sounds like a euphemism, but is in this case literally what I’m up to. As proud as I am of my career, I do hate it when I’m dressed like a lady the first time I meet one of his coworkers. But some things just cannot be helped.