Artist Spotlight

Artist Spotlight: Martina Collender

In the Artist Spotlight series of blog posts, The Layered Onion highlights an artist in the community. We’ll get a chance to learn more about them and their work.

In this post we are featuring Martina Teeny Collender, a playwright and writer based in Ireland. In her words:

“Martina Collender is a queer disabled Playwright, Director, Stage Manager, Drama and Creative Writing tutor, Poet and Spoken Word artist living and working in Waterford City and County. She has been commissioned to write for Loose Screw Theatre Company, RigOut Productions, Trinity Players, Comeragh Wilds Festival, Imagine Arts Festival, Waterford Youth Arts, Brothers Of Charity, Rehab Care Waterford, Waterpark School, Red Kettle Theatre Company, Garter Lane Arts Centre and Theatre Royal Waterford. Two of her plays Crotty The Highway Man and Pettiecoat Loose have been published. Her work has been published in The Waxed Lemon and The Lonely Voice run by the Irish Writer’s Centre. She has over ten years experience teaching drama and Creative Writing to young people aged 4 to 19 and to adults with disabilities at Waterford Youth Arts, Brothers Of Charity, Rehab Care Waterford, Blast, Teachers Centre Waterford, Waterpark School, Presentation School, The Mercy and Imagine Arts Festival.” 

One of Martina’s works, Crotty The Highway Man, was recently performed at the end of April and beginning of May by the Dungarvan Drama Circle. The compelling teaser: “Step back in time and into local folklore to join us for this immersive storytelling experience. Up in the Comeragh Mountains, on the doorstep of the local legend William Crotty, encounter the story of the highwayman who stole from the rich to give to the poor. Meet Crotty, the woman who loved him and the man who betrayed him…” The performance was outdoors at Crottys Lake.

Martina did a Q&A with The Layered Onion, talking about her plays and inspiration:

Did you always know what you wanted to do from a young age?

When I was 16 I saw a play called To Leap From Paradise by the late great Jim Daly. When I saw it I thought “I want to do that” and that was the moment for me.

What’s the process been like as an playwright?

Research. Research. Research. No matter what the topic is read or better still talk to as many people as you can. Theatre comes from real life experiences and by engaging with people you can achieve the ultimate goal of putting someone’s life and heart on the stage.

Are there performances or characters you’ve written that you remember fondly or are especially proud of?

If The Lights Change, which is dedicated to my sister Mary is about siblings, you rarely see siblings portrayed in the Arts and I am proud of doing it justice.

What’s your favorite part about writing? What empowers you?

The first read-through with the actors, hearing your words voiced for the first time is a rush and so exciting.

What led you towards writing for theatre? What do you find most challenging and most rewarding?

Getting funding is the most challenging, it’s so so hard. The most rewarding thing is opening night seeing the actors, director, Stage Manager, lighting designer, sound designer all add their piece to create the magic of your words is wonderful.

What is your favorite thing to write? Where do you draw your inspiration?

I draw inspiration from everyday life. I like to write what will give the voice to the voiceless.

What themes do you include in your work?

Pro Choice, Pro Euthanasia, LGBTI rights, Traveller rights, miscarriages, alcoholism, obsessive behaviour, folk lore, rape culture, relationships, stillborn, FFA, gay rights, religion, mental health nationality, anything I’m passionate about.

Anything that’s inspiring or exciting you that you’re working on right now?

I’m working on piece about Rape culture, how the guards treat rape victims. It’s tough but should make an exciting piece of theatre.

You can check out more from Martina on Twitter (@Playwrightcoll and @Martinacollend1), Instagram (@martinacollenderplaywright), or Facebook.