Mary Chalon Davis - Co-Founder/Company Member of Parson's Nose Theater
Mary was born in Ontario, Canada and raised in England and New York City. She attended Emerson College located in Boston, MA. Mary has performed on stage all around the country in venues such as Portland Stage, GeVa Stage, The Kennedy Center, Manhattan Theater Club and many others. Mary has also performed in several television shows and directed productions for Parson's Nose. In 2011, she was voted one of the "Fifty Fabulous Women of Pasadena" - and we couldn't agree more! For a full list of Mary's credits, please visit our PNT Company page. Continue reading below to get to know Mary and hear some of her stories about the stage! Q: When did you begin acting and how did you get into it? What was your first role? A: "My very first experience on stage was playing one of the shepherds in the Nativity Play at age 9, at the White Friars Covent School in Farnborough, England. It was a captive audience. I remember being totally terrified and exhilarated at the same time, and had no idea what I was really doing, but something clicked. I continued to do plays and recite poetry as a student in England, and then do plays in high school when my family moved to the U.S.A. and settled in a suburb 35 miles north of New York City, Irvington, NY. My first paid acting job was at the age of 18 on CBS's The Ed Sullivan Show, doing sketch comedy with the Ace Trucking Company, an improvisational comedy troupe.
Q: What are your favorite roles you've had a pleasure of playing and why? A: Emily Dickinson in the one woman show, "The Belle of Amherst", by Henry Luce. It's a wonderful 2-hour workout with inspirational material written from the point of view of the immensely gifted poet herself. Margaret Lytton in the one woman show, "The Yellow Wallpaper", adapted by Anne Titolo from the classic semi-autobiographical story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. It's another wonderful 2-hour workout about a woman going slowly but steadily mad as a result of the "rest cures" for nerves during the late 19th Century. Margaret's writing was taken away from her and she was bereft of any company or ability to express herself creatively, and gradually went insane. Also, Cecily Pigeon in Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple", directed by Joe Cacaci. I don't think I have ever had so much fun doing a show. We had fake arrows through our heads, all manner of practical jokes...I could go on...it was a total delight that I will never forget.
Q: When you're not performing, how do you like to spend your time? If you weren't an actor, what other profession would you have liked to explore? A: When I am not acting...well for the past 20+ years I have had the great pleasure to have raised a wonderful daughter, Jemma Davis, with my husband, Lance Davis. She is now grown up, recently graduated from college, and is on her own, employed and doing something she loves. She has been and is an absolute delight in my life. I like to exercise, take long walks outdoors, do pilates, and read. I LOVE to read. Films are a regular passion, and just being with friends having good food and talks is a pleasure that never fails me. I run the Children's Ministry Sunday programs at our Episcopal Church, St. James' in South Pasadena where Jemma went to pre-school, and Lance and I attend. The place and the people there are close to my heart. I am part of many groups that seek a deeper spiritual understanding such as EFM, group spiritual direction and much more. If I was not an actor, well, I don't know...I would find a way to read aloud. Read to the blind, perhaps. I did consider getting my Masters in Family Therapy at one point...maybe another path...honestly I am not sure. I have been very fortunate to be able to act and be a mother, a wife, and to do many things that bring my joy. I am thankful.
Q: Share a story about something you experienced on stage or saw in another production that could only happen in live theater. A: I was doing "The Belle of Amherst" in Boston about 34 years ago. In those days I was extremely slim, working long hours doing this show 6 nights a week (I wish, I wish I was so slim now). I wore a cream floor length simple dress that was made "built" for me and underneath it I wore a cotton petticoat. As I mentioned, it was a one woman show, so it was just me out there trying to give justice to the script and to Emily Dickinson's poetry. I was right in the middle of a poem about Emily's father arriving home, and I felt a sudden weight around my feet. I was looking out, "imagining". I dare not look down at my feet during the critical poetic moment. While mid-sentence, I thought I might take a mini step forward and gather a little more insight as to what exactly lay at my feet. I took a small step, realizing that whatever was there would not LET me take a bigger step. I finished the poem with particular flourish, looked down to see and then feel, that my petticoat had fallen off my waist and hips and was now gathered and tangled at my feet!! Looking out cheerfully at the audience, in my most Emily like way, I said, "Oh, my petticoat seems to have fallen to my feet!" I picked it up and put it aside, and carried on. Laughter and appreciation was the response. Phew!
Q: What's the most embarrassing thing that's happened to you personally during a performance? A: Well, I guess it's number 4!