“Martin” — Earlham’s Steampunk Sequel Show Gives Final Encore

The cast of “Martin” in a scene on the airship: from left, Amelia Corner, Sarah Cohen, Haley Baugues, Helena Jose, Gideon Pickering-Polstra, Austi Jenkins, Jacob Munday, Brennen Urich, Kathryn Wurst, Skye Miller-Purrenhage, Grace Wilson, and Katie Zack.

On Saturday, September 9th, the Earlham theater department’s play, which they took to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August, had its final performance.

The play’s full name is The Further Misadventures of Martin Hathaway, Shipwrecked Off Heramathea’s Cove, but actor Gideon Pickering-Polstra explained that that title “doesn’t quite roll off the tongue as quickly as ‘Martin’”. Earlham’s own Lynne Perkins Socey directed and initially developed this adaptation of a book by Kathryn Clare Glen, local author and bookstore owner. “Martin” is set in a steampunk-fantasy alternate universe, featuring airships, mermaids, and plenty of whimsy.

Earlham’s theater department took their adaptation of the first book to the Fringe back in 2019. Jacob Munday, who played the titular Martin Hathaway this year, said, “A lot of the staging motifs, like the ship, and sort of the simplicity of the set, were very heavily inspired and pioneered by the first production.” Although all of the actors read the source book, and watched an archival recording of the first play, they were encouraged to present their own versions of the characters. “It’s not your job as an actor to replicate someone else’s choices,” said Austi Jenkins, who played Captain Daisy.

The most notable and unique aspect of the production was taking the show to Edinburgh. Actor Katie Zack said, “When I came to Earlham College, I never imagined I’d be doing theater in a whole other country… It challenged us in ways that were unique, y’know. We get limited space, we get limited supplies.” Additionally, the show’s Fringe venue “was just completely different than what we have here, and what we were anticipating,” as actor Haley Baugues described. There were difficulties with the small size of the stage, having to redo the blocking, and the intense heat of the non-air-conditioned building.

Additionally, some actors studying abroad this semester led to the use of “fill-in” actors at Saturday’s performance. Gannon Murray, who originally “work[ed] on sound,” changed roles for the encore, but didn’t have too much trouble: “Having, y’know, listened to the show from the booth for its entire run here at Earlham, I was relatively familiar with it and was able to drop in pretty easily.” The actors expressed that the fill-ins had been far easier to adapt to than some other difficulties. As Katie added, “[the fill-in actors] had also done their homework… So we didn’t have to be like, ‘Well, we’ll only hope they know their lines!’ We’ll be like, ‘Yes, they worked very hard to know what they were doing.’”

Once part three of Glen’s trilogy is published, the Earlham theater department plans to adapt that into a production, as well. Yet, the version of “Martin” that played these past months is done for good. As with the closing of any show, the encore performance was a bittersweet celebration of the cast and crew.

“It was quite the pleasure to put on,” concluded Gideon. And, as an audience member, I would add: it was quite the pleasure to behold.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *