May’s Featured Artist is Martin Smith (front, centre in photo), a community actor, director, playwright, and active arts promoter. Smith moved to Brantford over six years ago, and has been busy immersing himself in the arts community, and has acted or directed in over a dozen local community theatre shows, including 12 Angry Men, Waiting for Godot, and Suburban Standoff. If you are a social media user, you’ve likely seen Martin and his colourful blazers on Marquee with Martin – a partnership with Murky Productions – or BrantNow Events.
His love of creative writing began in high school. He thought the class would be a “cake walk; a class I could sleep through and still pass.” However, he soon discovered that he had a real passion and talent for writing. He loved it so much that he retook the same class the next semester, just to spend more time learning and writing!
He first became interested in theatre while working as a radio disc jockey in Alberta. He wrote his first play, My Father’s Chair, in the early 1990s, and has written over 15 full-length plays since. As his craft develops, he has noticed that his characters, plots, and dialogues have matured to become more believable and real. “At first I fell into the habit of putting words into the mouth of whatever character was close at hand,” he said, “Now each character becomes a very real person to me.”
Martin is also a playwright, whose works have been performed locally, as well as in Alberta and Colorado. He has written The Strong Hand of Love, The Other Noise, Baked Muffins with Dates, and his newest play presented by ICHTHYS Theatre Productions in March and April 2019 – Burs of a Feather.
Acting, directing, writing and promoting the arts all “scratch a different artistic itch” for Martin; he enjoys the group dynamics of acting and directing, but also appreciates the solitary craft of writing as it allows him to “dig a little deeper and create at [his] own pace and schedule.”
He encourages other people who are looking to develop their craft to simply do – practice what you want to excel at, and keep trying to improve. “I think often artistic people will admire an art form, try it and then get discouraged because they are not seeing what they admire,” he notes. “My first play was not terrific. It’s not terrible, but it wasn’t terrific. But, by continuing to write I believe that I am improving with each outing. So if you are a writer, then write. If you are a dancer, then dance. If you are an actor, then act. It could be argued that talent is part of our nature, but I believe nurture plays an even bigger role. By doing, we improve.”
Martin is also the co-creator of the Brant Improv Festival, and volunteers his time on several local boards, including ICHTHYS Theatre Productions, the Brantford Symphony Orchestra, and Paris Performers’ Theatre.