Playing it Wright

Martina Collender loving the theatrical challenge

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”
(William Shakespeare – ‘As You Like It’)

Martina Collender is riotously good company. And when we recently sat for a long overdue conversation, there were times when it felt like she couldn’t make many of her impassioned, entertaining points with sufficient haste!
Primarily a playwright, in addition to being a stage manager and a drama/creative writing facilitator, Martina is the latest in a happily long and talented line of Waterford writers bringing fresh stories centred on the human condition to the local stage.
Honing and developing her craft, Martina is living the life she’s always dreamed of pursuing: how admirable a feat is that? And securing National Arts Council funding via the Theatre Bursary Award wasn’t something she had reckoned upon beforehand.

“It was a huge surprise to me when I got, and needless to say I was absolutely delighted,” said Martina, laughing.
“I’d thrown in an application in the hope that I might get a bit of name recognition with the Arts Council down the line, but never in a million years did I think I’d end up getting the funding. It really was a huge surprise when I got it – I screamed the head off my sister when she rang me and told me! But what was wonderful about it, apart from the financial help, was the fact that, well, let me put it this way. I think we all suffer from self-doubt so it was a huge thing for me to think that there was a group of people in Dublin who’d looked through my stuff and told me to keep doing what you’re doing, girl, you’re on the right track.”

The theatrical world is at Martina Collender's feet.

The theatrical world is at Martina Collender's feet.

So what will this bursary allow Martina to do? “Well firstly, the most priceless thing about it all has been the encouragement I’ve gotten from it – you’d always wonder are you good enough and maybe I should step back from this – so the encouragement has been huge. It’s telling me that I have something and that I should go with it and follow it. That’s absolutely priceless. But it’s also given me financial relief so that I can go full-time working on my writing. And it’s also allowed me to work with Jim Nolan, someone I have admired for years, as my mentor. I’m quite young as a writer (Martina is in her mid-20s), so to have Jim’s experience to call upon, to have him sitting with me and giving me notes is huge because I know I’ll be more confident come the end of finishing this new play (titled ‘Still We Sing’) and it’s not going to be just a case of me getting to that stage and thinking ‘this is great’; I’ll have had Jim working with me throughout the process and that can only help me get to where I want to go in terms of the play. It’s a very exciting time for me.”

The in-development play is set “generically”, according to Martina, and draws on the =the ongoing migrant/refugee crisis, an ongoing issue in the Mediterranean despite decreasing levels of media coverage. In addition, it also takes into account “what the Catholic Church did to women through the Magdalene Laundries. I’m intrigued and interested in the idea of what we do to each other as humans, and the idea of control and power and what how certain people get forced into horrific existences for no real reason at all. “And I’m also interested in how humans survive, sometimes against all odds, and what makes people get up every morning and somehow come out the other side of total and utter horror, and that’s what I hope the point of the play will be – if I ever get it finished!” (See Encore 2 for more)

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