Sam + Paige

paige + sam on collaboration

Process




PAIGE COLLETTE:

SAMANTHA JOHNS:


Can I start by talking about how I met you?  Is that embarrassing?

Sure, it feels good to be a little vulnerable… when I have control over the vulnerability.  (Sam laughs)

Ok, awesome.  I met you in the women’s bathroom at the Southern Theater in June 2009.  You were tipsy, emotional – brimming with energy and mystery. I thought I knew it was you because I’d heard a lot about you from George1 so I just asked you: “Are you Samantha Johns?”

I remember that. It was weird.  But I’d seen you before.  George showed me your Facebook photo and I was like, don’t show me that.

While working on this, Paige and Sam received text messages from various gentlemen.  They spoke about these messages at length.

 

That summer I lived in Minneapolis, and I worked on mars project2 with you and Savannah3

Savannah and I thought, “This woman is just gonna wear underwear, drink from a whiskey bottle, and talk about how she feels?  Great, she’s in the show.”  It felt like an answer to a prayer.  

After mars project, I was supposed to move back to New York. I would cry a lot on this very couch that we’re sitting on right now and try to figure out my life.

I remember you crying a lot.  I learned the ways of your mind through emotional outbursts and processing.  In November, I went to see your show in New York.4  You were crying –
Oh crying again Yeah, at the end of the show you were

just sobbing – holding that bowl and weeping.  I wanted to redirect the whole show in Minneapolis just so I could see that image again.


We started to talk about doing it in Minneapolis.

But I was still working on The Thing5.

Yeah, I’m really glad I got see The Thing. And I saw your supercool artist loft, and I thought, I should do this, I should move back to Minnesota.  I also was in love with someone, but –

Why don’t you just write that?


OK, I also was in love with someone.  
Who lived in Minnesota.

So you moved back here, and we started hanging out again.

We had a dinner party where Lucas6 cooked a duck.

We sat in lawn chairs because you and George didn’t really have furniture yet.

Writing this has become Sam’s favorite collaboration with Paige to date.

 

Then we worked on Fanciness Vs. The Void7.  We were rehearsing in this weird space8 with glue and broken glass on the ground, but I felt safe because of you.

It was so sketchy.  I remember you pulling a really dirty dress out of a box and asking if you could wear it in the show, and I thought, “Yeah, that’s the perfect dress for the show, but I have no idea what kind of animals or chemicals have been on it. But yes, put it on, flop around, wear some sunglasses.”

When we were on tour with Fanciness, I really saw your quest for excellence, how important your art was to you and what would happen when there were limitations trying to prevent you from sharing the art you had crafted.

I remember seeing your maternal instinct.  You would know I needed water before I knew I needed water.  And there would be water.

Do you want some water?

(Sam laughs)

Tour was traumatic and wonderful.  

Paige and Sam learned how much they loved astrology.

 

Sam is a Leo.  

Paige is a Gemini.

This is a fire/air combination.
There’s no earth in Sam’s chart.

And Paige’s earth is soaked in water.  


We tend to float around like fireworks, singing along to Katy Perry.

And smoking cigarettes.  

Sam currently feels uncomfortable talking about herself, but Paige secretly knows that Sam is curious to share.  They respect and love each other’s brains.

 

Remember that time we went out for dinner?  We had crab cakes and wine and talked about sex and art.  

We supported each other and split the bill.  

Yep.

Yep.

Now do we talk about even if we never look forward9?

Yeah… but how do we talk about that
and llamas10 and these projects that we both did together, but you weren’t my main collaborator.  I mean, I like how we’re talking through things chronologically.  Hmm…

Sam just made up a game to figure out whom they have collaborated with the most, but Paige didn’t learn the rules.

 

But the point is – we love a lot of the same people artistically, creatively, personally.

We thought about listing everyone, but it gets scary if we forget someone.  We are not fear-driven women.

Sam wants a cig.  She always gives one to Paige.

 
 
When did we go to Chicago?

We went to see Every House Has A Door11.

I was wearing a coat.

According to Gmail, it was February 2011.

 


See, I knew I was wearing a coat.  I asked you for a list of your influences, and you started giving them to me, but the list got too big, so I asked you to email me.  I was in the back seat with Tom Lloyd.  You were in the front seat with George McConnell.  He’d just put gas in the car.  Do you remember?

Not really.  Vaguely.

You emailed me the list and I started looking up the people.  This list of people feels really important.  I’m still working on my email response to you with my influential people.

I didn’t know that.

It’s in my draft folder.  

Paige and Sam lend each other books.  They both like stripes.

 

Okay.  Buttercream12?

Mhmm.

We performed it in Minneapolis, but rehearsed it in New York.

We saw Bridesmaids in New York.  I think I bruised your shoulder because I was squeezing it so tight and laughing so hard.  I was also nervous about bedbugs in New York movie theaters.  I’ve been talking a lot.  We need to give you some text soon.

But you wanna talk about the ambulance, right?

(Sam laughs.)  I think it’s important we say how you flirted with those ambulance drivers in Brooklyn and got us a ride home because that’s a very strong part of how I view you.  Now I’m nervous about having too many words.

Should I write that down?

Maybe.  But then it’s more words.

After Buttercream, we saw lots of shows and drank lots of whiskey gingers.

We took each other to the airport.

Paige and Sam feel it’s important for you to know that they don’t have pets.  

Paige and Sam make art.

 

Not that you can’t do both.

I don’t feel the need to justify that.  Should we talk about Man Show13 now?

OK, here we go.  I thought about making a show with all men.

And I wanted to direct Paige’s words.
Tons of me, tons of men.  So much, so many.   This is the first time we’ve ever worked together in this way.   We’re learning about my need to have lots of control and you not needing it.  

Oh we’re just learning this now?

I finally understand what George always said about you being a solo performer and me being a ship captain.

And we’re learning that beer can fix a lot of things.  We like to get personal with things onstage and offstage.  I like simple visuals and complex text.  

I like complex visuals and I don’t need text, but I like your text.  I like what you said about the text being shy.  There’s this thing I feel like – where I’m like – movement, movement, movement and then the writer is like –

-- we need conflict, tension, words.  

It’s a really nice reminder.  You do it in a really delicate way.  If I were a writer, I would be like why did I even write any words?

I’m happy that my words have your beautiful structure to live inside.  I don’t always write structure.  

We’re still building it.  We don’t totally know, but we trust each other and ourselves.

We have some secrets too.

(Sam laughs)
There’s something about the process of how things get dealt with when we meet.
We either have food or a sweet

Or some alcohol or caffeine.

And we talk about things.  There’s a gossipy thing we do.  We’ve met after every rehearsal and sometimes other friends join.  

We list favorites of things from rehearsal.

What do we like 20%, 50%, 100%?

It’s sort of like how some women shop for clothes together.

When you see I’m frustrated about something, you figure out a way to solve it.  You get beer for the men to solve the problem.  
Yeah, I like solving problems.  With beer. There’s a geographical structure for how I deal with making stuff.  My past was all about marching band, high school sports, my father.  Big, more, loud, more, big, loud.

You dealt with big groups of bodies in big spaces, big movements.

Loud family, loud sounds.  For you, it was Catholic school, college in New York.

Middle school: deciphering words from the Bible and Beatles lyrics.  High school: locking myself in my room, reading Anais Nin.  Boyfriends.  
 

This interview started with Paige sharing an intense personal story

and Sam making a lot of popcorn and not saying much.

 

Sam is left-handed.  Paige is right handed.

 

 



1George McConnell and Paige Collette were in a relationship from May 2009-March 2012. Sam and George are also collaborators.

2mars project was the first performance/party/experiment to take place at 1419 in September 2009

3Savannah Reich is a badass theater artist

4Buttercream & Scotch written and performed by Paige Collette & Tatiana Pavela. Workshop performance at Dixon Place, NYC – November 2009

5The Thing was created by Samantha Johns, George McConnell, and the ensemble at 1419 in January 2010

6Sam’s dreamy boyfriend

7Fanciness Vs. The Void by Savannah Reich. Directed by Samantha Johns. Performed at Open Eye Figure Theatre in June 2010. Followed by tour.

81419

9even if we never look forward was created by Sam Johns, George McConnell, and the ensemble at Paper Moose Jumpsuit & Co. in May 2011

10You Don’t Have to Choose Between Llamas and Dancing and Being With the One You Love by Savannah Reich. Directed by Samantha Johns. Part of Jon Ferguson’s New Comedy Festival at the Lowry Theater Lab. February 2012

11Every House Has Door is Lin Hixon and Matthew Goulish’s performance company

12Buttercream & Scotch written & performed by Paige Collette & Tatiana Pavela. Directed & designed by Samantha Johns at the People’s Center Theater – July 2011.

13Man Show [What We Want to See] by Samantha Johns and Paige Collette. Part of Bedlam’s 10-Minute Play Festival at Mixed Blood Theatre. May 30-June 3, 2012.


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