Since far too often we only publicly say nice things about people when they are dead I’ve decided to randomly pick a Facebook friend every day and say something nice about them.
July 1, 2019
Today’s person: Paige Mayes!
The first time I remember meeting Paige was when she was presented as a cast member for a show I was co-directing. L. Peter Callender, Edris Cooper, Velina Brown, and myself were directing “The Colored Museum” at African American Shakespeare Company, but as I couldn’t be at the auditions, I didn’t know the cast members I was going to be sharing for the vignettes until first read-through.
I only directed Paige in one of the scenes for that show, but it was great to have an actor who took the direction and ran with it. She wasn’t hesitant - whatever I asked her to do she threw herself into, and if I asked her to go a different way she reversed without getting tangled up
The next time I worked with Paige was in “Jazz” at Marin Theatre Company, and that time I got to get to know her much better, which made me regret that I hadn’t done so much earlier. Paige is smart and funny and goofy and glamorous, and sometimes all at once. She has what all of us want to have: honest curiosity, persistent experimentation, and assured depth. I know she may not see herself as a master yet, but her committed character work, her refined physical work, and her ability to project her smallest inner choice to an audience are the sort of skills many take decades to refine.
And she exudes a sense of fun and excitement onstage that is joyful to bounce off. For me the look in her eyes onstage was a blaze of new, exciting possibilities. The world is fresh, and anything can happen. This isn’t to say Paige hasn’t played world-weary characters, but that weariness still has at its core a seed of what could have been; What she brings even in that case is the tragedy of amazement stifled, of love and wonder suppressed, and that seed of joyous possibility lost brings a dramatic tragedy to those characters which is that much truer to watch.
Perhaps because the world I want to live in is one of exhilarating promise I find that wonderful. It’s easy to be worn down, to miss the magic of the moment. I hope I have other chances to work with Paige, experience her adventure, and see the world fresh in her blazing eyes.
I sound like a vampire