Saturday, March 12, 2016


Mary M Payne in a costume dress ( Don Loper)..... from my collection , circa 1996, Mougin.

San Francisco was the place where I had another life.....that of an actor.  It was with some trepidation and longing that I pulled myself away to come abroad so many years ago. 

 It had been a dream of Monsieur and I to live in another country... after I quit teaching school.  But then "Acting" got me in its clutches.  I found a "once in a lifetime" teacher who captivated me. We put our dream on hold while I came under her spell. 

  Its odd because I didn't set out to be on stage.  The idea scared the pants off of me in fact.... but I happened to catch a class with Jean Shelton, late from NYC and it was like falling in love......  I had to learn whatever she had to teach me...... and I did.  

   I started slow,  progressed... and found I had a flair for it.  Acting became a compulsion, a crazy obsession for ten years of my life.  During that period I was able to do some work of which I was proud and I was asked to teach at the J. S. Acting school , an honor.  

 My monsieur was extraordinary during that ten years.  He not only tolerated my obsession but encouraged it and paid for my time in NYC with Stella Adler and some other fine teachers during that period.   But even studying with Stella, who had taught so many famous actors,  meant little compared to my formative time under the tutelage of Jean Shelton at the Actors Studio on Sutter Street in S. F. 

Now Ms. Shelton is in her late 80's and we are honoring her in the ways that we know how.  She was like a perfect mother/sister to all of us....strict but loving , irreverent, incisive and quietly brilliant.  We owe her much. 

On this trip to S. F.  I visited some of the actors from my past...Mary, Marianne, Cynthia, Kathy. They welcomed me back with a party at Mary's house.   It was lovely; bittersweet.  We all had left acting behind for one reason or another and I don't think any of us had ever forgotten or even surpassed the passion and craziness of that period of our lives.

    But passion translates to many creative languages.   I am stirring up the old memories and stirring the pot. 
Sometimes its good to look back to see where we have been.   Sometimes its good to see what informed us. 


  1. You had the acting life I always wanted, Mary. Maybe it's not too late for me.

  2. MAia, I started at 35 and did a lot in Ten years. I knew I wasn't cut out for a career in theatre but I was glad I Tried for it.