Mary Clemenson is a character actor who writes most of her scripts. While there are a host of people out there who want to act, few have the ability to do both.
Not only are her scripts a look into the reality of life but her delivery is beyond compare. I've been in troupe meetings where Mary had her peers in stitches and in showcases where the audience was truly impressed.
I chatted with Mary in the ABC lunchroom where she works. I wanted to know where the ideas for her scripts come from.
“They come from a personal perspective,” she explained. “It could be when I’m walking down the street or a memory from the past. Relationships are generally based on personal experiences because I think that is something that everyone can relate to. Not everyone is married or in a relationship but we can still connect with what is going on. We've all been around people whose relationships have done a 180. Script writing is about writing what you know.”
Part of Mary’s experience comes from actually delving into things like online dating. Years ago she tried the well-known online web site known as Match.com.
“I tried it years back and I did go out on a couple of dates. I didn't end up getting married but then it got me thinking. In a way when we do these dating web sites it sometimes makes you feel worse about yourself when you don’t get any responses or winks. It makes you wonder what is wrong with me.”
Mary delved into how as humans we start to think why and often it comes down to things like I’m not pretty enough or I’m not sexy enough or I’m too tall or too short or too fat or even too skinny.
Along the lines of I’m not pretty enough Mary tried something. “A couple of years back I did a trick and I replaced my photo with that of someone really cute and within 5 minutes I got so many responses. Obviously I knew right then and there it’s a visual thing. It wasn't a great feeling for me but it answered my question. And they didn't even notice the color of the hair was totally different. Men say they are not visual but they totally are.”
So, that became the theme for one of her scripts.
And here is the end result of that theme:
Single Woman – by Mary Clemenson
I always heard that something happens to a woman when she hits her 30's, I just didn't think it would happen to me.
Now, 41, I am coming to a realization that I never really had a life. This hit me a few months ago when I was watching the Farrah Fawcett Documentary about her life. Her relationship with Lee Majors and Ryan O'Neal how they met, etc. … and while I know these were Hollywood romances, I couldn't help but feel this woman lived a life.
Most of the people I went to school with are married and have several kids already. I, on the other hand, have had only one major relationship in my life and thinking back I am not so sure one could really even call it a relationship -- let alone major.
A few men here and there in my life but no one of major significance and certainly no great romances. Even finding girlfriends these days seems to be a challenge.
My aunt who is now 75 is still in contact with Ella, her childhood friend. Even if I met a great friend tomorrow, she still wouldn't qualify as a "lifelong, childhood" friend. Although, watching The Golden Girls repeats does keep me optimistic.
For now, I am a single woman living alone -- sans cats which is a good thing.
Does Anybody Work Anymore
Yet another theme was about work and the concept of “Does anybody work anymore.” Mary admitted that this one was from what she noticed. There was a time when people worked or they had a stay at home mom but as Mary explained, “that is not the case anymore.” So, in this script she touched upon such things as are they out of work or a multi-millionaire; do they work from home but are always running out to get that cup of coffee.
And this is the end result:
Does ANYONE work anymore? It certainly doesn't seem so. What, with the given state of the economy, this would not be surprising. But, have you really looked upon the streets of Manhattan recently?
Since venturing from my 9-5 job roughly two years ago, I find my schedule now changes weekly. This has allowed me to absorb the city like never before. Still, I confess that I rarely stray far from my home base on the Upper East Side. But, you get the idea…
This past summer was a real hoot (does anyone use that word anymore?). I would sit in various cafes and survey the passerby’s. Ultimately, I discovered that I could easily divide most people into one of four categories: the wealthy Upper East Side woman who lunches, the stay-at-home mothers (those with strollers are always a dead give-away), retirees, and the person who has that elusive job that can be performed from just about anywhere (given the basic staple items of a blackberry and laptop, of course).
These days, there also just seems to be fewer people in a hurry. Hell, just drop by your local Starbucks for evidence.
My aunt and I were discussing this phenomenon the other day. Approaching 75, my aunt recalls the time when banks and post offices were empty on any given Monday, save for those who actually worked there. These days, there are weekday afternoon lines everywhere. This includes the now ubiquitous sold-out Wednesday matinee. So much for a quiet Tuesday afternoon in the park. What would Morrie think?
Who is Mary Clemenson
Mary’s life has always revolved around NYC since she was born and raised in Manhattan on the Upper East Side. She readily admits that she’s not rich because when most people know that you live in NYC they automatically think you are.
Mary lives in the city because she really likes it. Her recent move from in the 40s (Tudor City) to just a short distance away has disappointed her just a tiny bit.
“Even though it is only 10 minutes away I miss the Upper East Side. I really like the 60s, 70s, 80s – it’s got a nice balance of restaurants, stores and businesses,” she explained.
“I’m not into going downtown because that’s where all the people go but for me it all feels one and the same. I really like the feel of Park Avenue.”
Mary went to Marymount Manhattan College and majored in communication and then out of college she worked for a television sales company.
“It was Blair TV,” she remarked, “and from there I went to a PR company. I managed to learn the TV business on the technical side. Then I went to MultiVu, an independent branch of PR Newswire, ultimately as the production manager. I learned more about TV on the technical side. How to hire makeup artists, breakfast and more.”
After 4 years Mary started working at the NBC Satellite Desk booking live remotes, and trucks. And she was also working at ABC.
Nowadays Mary just works at ABC doing technical stuff like bringing live shots in and out of the building.
As she explained it, “Everything is computerized. We have to get the live shot through satellite or fiber.”
And in between she does her acting and script writing because it is something she’s wanted to do.
“I've always wanted to act but it took me time to make the move. I took some acting classes with Jon Palotta and did monologues with TAPNYC and in the process have written several monologues.
“I never wrote any until I started acting because then it gave me an outlet because not only could I write the scripts but I could perform them!”