Anita Martin: Writer and Editor – Theatre People
By Mitch Stark
Another good day, Theatre People! Every day forward means one closer to the stages being fully open and, with a little luck, the ‘Roaring Twenties’ of our storytelling craft just around the corner. Today I’m so happy to introduce you to a colleague of mine who formerly worked as Managing Editor at the Educational Theatre Association, Anita Martin. Anita and I collaborated on a few articles I wrote for Teaching Theatre magazine. Without exaggeration, I can say working with Anita is about everything you’d dream about as a writer working on anything. She’s a sharp editor, an incredible writer herself, kind, generous, and very protective of a writer’s voice. She also has a great love and knowledge of theatre—which lifted my work to another plane entirely.
Leaving EdTA to pursue her own creative projects, I was so thrilled to capture her interview and hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Anita Martin, former Managing Editor at EdTA and freelance writer and painter.
What’s a show that inspires you? (explain away!)
Two-parter. The first time I recall feeling inspired by theatre I was seeing my friends’ Coventry (Ohio) High School production of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. That show is so humble and simple, I think it’s easy to forget how groundbreakingly direct and self-reflective it was.
I felt similarly inspired after reading another Pulitzer winner, Quiara Alegria Hudes’ 2013 Water by the Spoonful. I haven’t yet seen it performed, but the stage direction of people sitting in chairs and struggling to connect within a bleak, disconnected context (chat room) reminded me of Act III in Our Town. I cried just reading it. These are very different plays, but both express the urgency of seeking real human connection how and when we can.
What’s one of your happiest moments in theatre?
Watching my first main stage show at an International Thespian Festival, among hundreds of high school Thespians from around the world. I was blown away by the talent on the stage, of course, but equally moved by the students sitting around me. You will never find a more enthusiastically appreciative audience. The way those young artists support and inspire each other is life affirming.
What’s the biggest ‘fail’ or goof you’ve seen on stage? (do tell the story)
I can’t think of a good stage one, so I’ll tell a rehearsal fail from my one and only high school acting experience. I played M’Lynn in Steel Magnolias, and I was having trouble tapping into honest anger, so my dear directors and castmates conspired one day to make me mad. They acted all snarky, interruptive, unprepared. I think we lost half a rehearsal that way — and it didn’t even work! I just got confused and sort of concerned. When they gave up and explained themselves, it was really funny but also touching that my friends would go to the trouble to trick me into better art.
Why do you love theatre?
Theatre requires so many disparate talents and strengths — all seamlessly integrated to directly engage live viewers in a moment. I think it’s beautiful that artists and technicians devote so many weeks and months of all-consuming work to create a thing so holistic, so complex, and so fleeting, mostly for people they’ll never meet.
Theatre is for…
At its best, theatre takes both artists and patrons and changes them. It reflects us but then surprises us, testing our assumptions and challenging us to look again.
More about Anita
Anita Martin is a freelance writer, portrait painter, and yoga teacher living in Cincinnati. She is the former managing editor of publications at the Educational Theatre Association.