2/21/2023 | Shonda Thurman
Paris Crayton III
Thirty Under Thirty, Best of ATL, Atlanta Journal Constitutions “Artists to Watch”. His list of accomplishments reads like you are seeing the trajectory of where his career is headed, spilling out onto the page. I believe that the man you are about to meet in this post is exactly what Creative Loafing names him, “one of the most important playwrights of our time”.
Paris Crayton III is a playwright, actor, director, teaching artist and inspirationalist, who’s messages are always penned with a purpose. In his writing, Paris tells both his own stories such as his autobiographical journey in Spare the Rod or someone else’s story such as his one act play in The Trayvon Martin Project-Hoodies.
Black Boy Joy
Paris’ journey to black boy joy began in Kindergarten. He and his classmates were supposed to deliver one speech each for a presentation, but because the other children were afraid, he ended up doing five of them. It was then that a stranger approached his mother and told her’ “she had an actor on her hands”, he wondered what that was and once he figured it out, he felt like he was home. Although the theatre is home, like most BIPOC actors he feels the inequality of it’s stages and used his platform to call this out in Birth of an Artistic Director. In his interview with the Orlando Weekly he says in a discussion of this play, “Trust me, as a Black man [I] don’t walk this life in a comfortable position. I’m always uncomfortable; anytime I step outside, I’m uncomfortable. … It’s time for you all to be OK with being uncomfortable.”
Advice for Young Artists
In times that he is asked to look back over his life and give himself advice, says “Find the heart in your art.”
A turning point for him as a writer came in 2009. “When I first started writing, I was always afraid to offend,” he says. “I didn’t use language in my writing. I thought, my parents will see this or my grandmother will see this. And it hindered me. I heard a poet say your story doesn’t start until you tell the truth. Once I heard that, my life opened up. I want to tell the best story possible.”
“Having had the chance to work with Paris, I can attest to the confidence he has in himself as an artist, the heart he has in his art, but also who he is as a person. I admire that the truth he writes about will be a part of artistic artifacts that one will find, dust off and help to tell our stories. His writings strip away the mask and Paris believes that when the mask is stripped away is when the art begins, He stands rooted in what he creates, and believes that if you see a mask when you see him it is your work to do to see the art beyond.” -Shonda Thurman