TOPHER PAYNE came to Atlanta from Mississippi at age nineteen, and got a gig slinging coffee at a bookstore. The job nurtured his two great passions: literature, and eavesdropping on other people’s conversations. He is now the author of more than a dozen plays, which have been performed on stages across the United States. Topher has been named “Best Local Playwright” by readers of both The GA Voice and Creative Loafing for the last four years, and served as Grand Marshal of the 2011 Atlanta Pride Parade.
His plays Swell Party and Angry Fags were both nominated for Outstanding World Premiere and The Gene-Gabriel Moore Playwriting Award at the 2013 Suzi Awards- Angry Fags won The Gene-Gabriel Moore Award. His play Perfect Arrangement was selected for the 2013 Source Festival in Washington DC, His play The Medicine Showdown (co-authored with Adam Koplan) was produced in October 2013 at The East 4th Street Theatre in Manhattan, and Georgia Ensemble Theatre will premiere his new comedy The Only Light in Reno in January 2014. Topher has written about his life with “humiliating candor” for nearly a decade- from 2005-2009 in his David Magazine column, Necessary Luxuries, which was compiled into a book of the same name. From 2010-2013, he chronicled suburban life in his Domestically Disturbed column in The GA Voice, which won the 2012 National Newspaper Association award for Best Humor Column.
Topher’s acting career extends in two directions: His roles include David Frost in Frost/Nixon (Springer Opera House), Hal in Proof (OnStage Atlanta), Vince in Tape (Pinch n’ Ouch Theatre), Bat-Hamlet in Bat-Hamlet (Essential Theatre), Jules in boom (Aurora Theatre), and an appearance in the Universal Pictures comedy, Identity Thief, starring Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy. He is doubly blessed with a second career as a “male actress” (borrowing a term from Charles Busch). His roles in that arena include the title role in Auntie Mame, Latrelle in Sordid Lives, The Succubus in Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, Mother Superior in The Divine Sister, Dorothy in Golden Girls Live, and his best-known work, five years of playing Julia Sugarbaker in Designing Women Live.
Topher is an artistic associate with Atlanta’s Process Theatre Company and Flying Carpet Theatre in New York. He is the Executive Producer of the Atlanta 24-Hour Plays for Working Title Playwrights.
Topher married his husband, Tommy Payne, on a Massachusetts beach in October 2009. They live with a beagle named Daisy in a house where everybody laughs a lot and dances in the kitchen.