Actor shares 'Dirt' from 1-man show

College instructor to perform, hold workshops on Suzuki

Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2002

Marcos Martinez, who is as expressive and energetic as he is experienced in theater, is spending the week in the central Kenai Peninsula giving theater enthusiasts a rare opportunity to witness a world-class actor perform a world-traveled play.

Martinez will perform his one-man show, "Holy Dirt," at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Soldotna High School Auditorium. He is spending this week performing scenes from the show at Kenai Central High School, Soldotna High School and Skyview High School and teaching a workshop in the Suzuki actor training method for members of the community theater "The Sound of Music" cast.

"Holy Dirt," written by Cheyney Ryan, is set in northern New Mexico during the 1970s. It is about a naive young man's journey to become an actor while struggling against commercialism and cultural stereotyping.

The show was written for Martinez and is somewhat autobiographical, he said. Much of the storyline of the play comes from Martinez's own life experiences. For instance, both the character and Martinez started out in theater by having to do community service, they both were involved in radical student politics and both worked on a railroad tie gang in Texas.

Since the show centers around the character's journey to become an actor, the audience doesn't finds out if he achieves his goal or not.

However, with Martinez there is no question of whether he achieved his dream. He studied theater at the University of New Mexico, earned a diploma in acting from Juilliard and teaches theater at California State University in San Marcos. He has spent the last four years performing "Holy Dirt" across the country and in Denmark.

Martinez took extra care with "Holy Dirt" to avoid what he considers the pitfalls of one-man shows.

"I've seen several that I didn't like," Martinez said. "They all seem so self-indulgent. The actors didn't have a sense of performance. They're up there doing some lower form of psychology."

"Holy Dirt" is well-written and gives Martinez an opportunity to do several accents and characterizations, which is his strong suit and adds to the quality of the play, he said.

The play is comedy that explores some serious issues of losing one's naivete, commercialization and racial stereotyping.

"The play will probably answer some questions about 'cultural diversity' in the U.S., to use a hack phrase," Martinez said. "It's not about stereotypes but deals a lot with perceptions. It's as much about that as about acting. It plays against what you expect."

Martinez is trained in the Suzuki acting method, which he will teach in his workshop for the "The Sound of Music" cast. According to Martinez, the Suzuki method is designed to help actors regain the perceptive, expressive abilities and powers of the human body. It also helps actors make greater use of their bodies and gives them greater physical endurance, especially in breathing.

For an actor, the two main elements of the method are learning to center their body and assess their energy.

"Basically what an actor is doing is projecting their energy," Martinez said. "That's what people pay to see in the performing arts -- concentrated energy. Your ability to project that will determine how affective you are. That's all an actor has is their energy, if you're not giving it to the audience, they'll fall asleep or get distracted."

Martinez will use several repetitive, physically strenuous exercises designed to force participants to just move and act, without consciously thinking about what they are doing. That way participants will be able to recognize the sometimes subconscious ways in which they repeat themselves in their movements.

Tickets for "Holy Dirt" are $10 at the door. The play is geared toward teen-agers and adults, so if families wishing to see the play are unable to afford tickets, arrangements can be made with Carol Ford at the door.

The play was originally advertised for 7 p.m. at the Renee C. Henderson Auditorium at Kenai Central High School. Due to a technical emergency at the Kenai auditorium, the location of play had to be changed and the time was moved back to accommodate late-comers. Posters with the corrected time and location will be posted at the Kenai auditorium and at other locations around the area.

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