Talk about retiring from an acting career on a high note. Leslie Martin, who imbues the Organic Theater Factory’s production of ” ‘Night, Mother” with an astonishing, aching sense of verisimilitude, will hang up her acting hat with Sunday’s final performance. (The site-specific show, held at a private home in Prather, has long been sold out.) I caught up with Martin to confirm the news.
Question: Is it true that you are retiring from acting? (Please say it isn’t so.)
Answer: Yes, it is true.
My father died a year ago. I was very close to him and felt lost. My close friend, Jennifer Hasty, encouraged me to do something that I have always dreamed about, and that is write a screenplay. She is an actress as well but has always wanted to write.We began working on a screenplay. For now, that is my passion. We are doing rewrites now and plan on having a table read in Los Angeles in the winter.
How has the run of ” ‘Night, Mother” progressed? Did you have any odd or awkward interactions with the audience considering the site-specific performances?
I sometimes encounter audience members in the hallway. I have to pretend they are not there when I walk by. I have to adjust ever so slightly so that I can get by them, but not seem aware. That’s tricky!
Have audience members tried to stay after to talk to you and Danielle Jorn after the performance? How do you think people have reacted to the lack of a curtain call or other sense of “closure” that is part of theater tradition?
I hide in the back room and the Stage Manager comes to get me when the audience is gone. From the little feedback I have received, I get the impression that the audience understands why we don’t have a curtain call. It would seem too theatrical after such a non theatrical production. I feel awkward taking a bow. By the end if the show, the audience has already given us so much. It would seem selfish to ask for more.
As an actor, what strikes you most about your experience in ” ‘Night, Mother”?
This was very special for me. Both Adam and Dani are former students of mine and are now close friends. I had a very special connection with their class and I felt that the whole time. I also loved that it was a challenge. So many lines and in a real setting. I love how real it feels even when it hurts.That was a dream of mine. I love raw acting and really value the teachings of Sanford Meisner. I am fortunate to have Dani as an acting partner. She is amazing. Adam’s concept and direction was so intuitive. Madi Spate was also a huge part of this whole process. This was a challenge and I loved every second.
Do you think this will open the door for other site-specific or alternate-staged performances in the Valley?
I hope that people do venture out and incorporate sight specific settings. It’s very freeing. I will miss that house. I thank the owners for allowing us to take over their home. It reminded me a lot if acting in film. It felt like a combination of theater and film and I really loved that.
Anything else you’d like to say?
I feel very proud to have worked with such talented people. Adam, Dani, and Anthony are heading out to have new adventures and I wish them all the best.