When actor and model Dina Paisner was born in Brooklyn’s Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood it was, according to her, very sleepy and peaceful. “I went to P.S. 25,” she says. “It was a very old school on Lafayette Avenue. The toilets were outside and we had to leave the building to use them.” When, exactly, was this? “No, thank you! I’m reluctant to give my age. People immediately put you into a category as a result and I don’t like to be categorized. Let’s just say I’m way up there,” she says, laughing.
Paisner grew up as the youngest of seven children of a family that had emigrated from the Ukraine. “My father was a Hebrew teacher,” she recalls. “My family was a real kind of tragic family out of a Chekov play. When I was a child I would observe them all sitting around on Friday nights with the candles lit. There was so much quiet tension that I felt compelled to break it. So I would imitate all my neighbors and make everybody laugh. Everyone thought I was going to be an artist but I loved theatre more and that’s what I pursued.” As an actor, Paisner was very busy for a while, going from one role to another. She was particularly active Off-Broadway before it became “fashionable.”
What is it about the theatre that appeals so much to her? “Because it’s life,” she says emphatically. “Theatre is life! Theatre saved my life, actually. Like so many children I had unfortunate things happen to me that kind of scarred me a little bit. I compensated with theater and I was able to live my life through it. And I was a very good actress.” Were these childhood traumas the reason she never had children of her own? “I was always waiting to grow up before I had kids of my own,” she says. “I never wanted to inflict my problems on another generation. That said, I love my family and I’ve always loved people. I’ve never been afraid of them.” – from a 2016 profile in West Village Originals
|Actor||The Trial of Dr. Beck||1980-81 Season|