Jon O’Brien and Michael Mayes in rehearsal for Red Speedo.


By Keith Waits

Entire contents are copyright © 2014 Keith Waits. All rights reserved

Michael Mayes has been leaving his mark on local stages for the past several years. Working with Louisville Repertory Company, Josephine SummerStage and especially Theatre [502] with which he is currently rehearsing Lucas Hnath’s Red Speedo, which opens September 12 at The Baron’s Theatre. We are grateful he could find the time to answer 17 questions for us.

Keith Waits:  #1. Were you born and raised in Louisville?
Michael Mayes: Yes

KW:  #2.  When did you first decide you wanted to be an actor?
MM: The night of my 27th birthday, December 7, 2008, 4 months after a chance encounter with Jim Tompkins, during which he told me I was the most talented one in our Acting II class.

KW:  #3 is in two parts. You attended the University of Louisville, correct?
MM: Yes.

KW: And with whom did you study there?
MM: I was an English major. I took acting for non-majors, acting I, & acting II. I studied under Brian Martin, Bert Harris, and Jim Tompkins, in that order. After seeing Tompkins on the street in 2008, I started grad school in fall 2009, at UofL. I was only a part-time student, and only stayed for 2 semesters. They wouldn’t give me an assistantship, so I left. During those 2 semesters I studied under Georgette Kleier, Rinda Frye, and Tompkins.

KW: #4. It seems like you’ve been working a lot since then. I first noticed you in Broadsword, which was directed by Amy Attaway for Theatre [502].
MM. Yes, I’ve been working pretty much non-stop since I left grad-school. I consider Broadsword my first professional job. Broadsword was like a stepping-stone for me. Theatre [502] has taken chances on me, done so much for me, and every time I work with them it feels so right.

KW: #5. Tell me about Dog Sees God, which was directed by Natalie Fields for Louisville Repertory Company.
MM: Whoa. My character, Matt, was nutso-combusto. Playing Matt was like a pre-requisite to playing Ruckus in Edgewise (produced by Theatre [502] in 2013). Dog Sees God is gritty, and ugly, but it’s a cartoon. As serious as the subject matter is, Natalie approached the script with playful irreverence.

KW: I’m filing away “nutso-combusto” for future reference in a review! #6. Mostly you’ve done contemporary work, but last summer you played Autolycus in The Winter’s Tale at Josephine SummerStage. Was that your first time with Shakespeare?
MM: No. It was my third time with Shakespeare. I’ve done As You Like It twice, and Winter’s Tale.

KW: He’s a great character, and he comes in late in the play, which maximizes the opportunity for the actor to make an impact. That’s #7, even though its more an observation than a question.
MM: Yes, he’s like a novelty. That role was one of the most fun, but also most challenging roles I’ve ever played. It’s such an elastic role. Autolycus is all over the damn place, physically, vocally, emotionally, tactically, on and on. He’s a trickster, “littered under Mercury”. Mercury is the fastest moving planet in our solar system, FYI. Mercury is the messenger, closest to the sun. Ok, I’m done.

KW: #8. You stay in good shape. How important is skateboarding in your workout regimen?
MM: I skate to stay agile, centered, strong, limber, creative, focused, etc. Skateboarding is my ideal “workout”.


Photo-Casandre Elyse Medel

KW: #9. Have you ever competed, or is it just for fun?
MM: I’ve never “competed”, but I used to always try to out-do my friends when we skated. None of my friends skate anymore, sucks.

KW: #10. Is it fair to say that physical conditioning is especially important for your next role, in Red Speedo?
MM: Yes. When rehearsals started I joined the YMCA, and devised a workout regimen. I swim 6 days a week, and lift weights 3 days a week. I’m eating more, and gaining lean muscle mass. I also do asanas or yoga daily to stay limber, and lengthen the muscles.

KW: Who says acting isn’t hard work! #11. Is there a favorite role you are dying to play?
MM: I know there are roles out there that I would really want to do, but I don’t read a lot of plays. That’s what the next stage as an actor is going to encompass for me; finding, or creating work that speaks to my soul.

KW: #12. Are you still planning on leaving town soon to study more?
MM: I’m visiting Naropa University (Boulder, CO) in October. Based on that visit I’ll either apply there in January, or look elsewhere. I want an MFA in performance, and I want the training to be radically different from the training I’ve received so far. Then I want to find ways to blend the two.

KW: #13. That sounds exciting, and your goals for creative growth are very focused and specific.
MM: I have unshakeable faith in the power of focused, specific plans that are acted on. I have Mars in Virgo in my 2nd house in my natal chart. That describes someone who highly values initiative, and one who highly values taking care of the details.

KW: #14. Will you come back to Louisville so we can witness that development?
MM: I can’t wait for that day. My ultimate goal is to have my own acting school here. I want my own space, a nice proper environment for people to work. I want to create a home for actors, directors, writers, crew, etc.

KW: #15. Do your personal ambitions include writing or directing?
MM: Yes, both.

KW: #16. You just participated in the 48 Hour Film Festival. Have you done that before?
MM: Yes, this year was my 3rd year. Curiously, it was a film called 48.

KW: Last one, #17. Why do you think so many people fell for the “zodiac change” hoax?
MM: Don’t get me started down that road. I’ll just say they were misinformed, and they believed.

Theatre [502] presents Red Speedo
by Lucas Hnath
The Baron’s Theater, 131 W. Main St.
September 12, 13, 15, 19, 20, 2014 at 8pm
Tickets $17, available at