Transcript: Martha Henry | Nov 12, 1996

(Rhythmic string and wind music plays)

In animation, a word in pink slides by against a gray background as hands paint strokes using paintbrushes, play a piano, and touch as in a ballet performance.

The title of the show reads “Dialogue.”

The title of the episode pops up against an image of Richard Ouzounian and a guest sitting in chairs in a park on a partly cloudy day: “Martha Henry. Actor.”

Then, Richard appears facing the screen. He's in his late forties, clean-shaven, with short side-parted blond hair. He's wearing rounded glasses, a black suit, and a white shirt.

He says WELCOME TO DIALOGUE.
I'M RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.
ANYBODY WHO GOES TO THE
THEATRE AS MUCH AS I DO
IS BOUND TO HAVE A GALLERY
OF FAVOURITE PORTRAITS.
BUT WHEN SOMEBODY ADDS THREE
FAVOURITES IN THE SPACE
OF A LITTLE OVER A
YEAR, YOU HAVE TO KNOW
SOMETHING SPECIAL
IS HAPPENING.
THAT'S THE CASE WITH THE
LADY YOU'RE ABOUT TO MEET.
HER PERFORMANCES IN
LONG
DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT,
THE LITTLE FOXES, AND
SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH
ARE HIGH ON MY MEMORY BOOK,
AND I WANT TO FIND OUT
WHERE THEY ALL CAME FROM.
THAT'S WHY THIS
DIALOGUE
IS WITH MARTHA HENRY.

Martha is in her fifties, with short red hair. She’s wearing a patterned pale blue and white long-sleeved dress, and the wind blows her hair around.

Richard continues MARTHA, TO START WITH WHAT
I WAS JUST MENTIONING,
YOU SEEM TO BE GOING THROUGH
AN INCREDIBLE PERIOD DOING
A LOT OF THE GREAT WORKS
OF THE 20TH CENTURY,
AND IT'S LIKE A
SURFER ON A WAVE:
THEY'RE JUST GOING
ALONG BEAUTIFULLY.
DO YOU FEEL
THAT YOURSELF?

Martha says WHAT I'M
DISCOVERING, IN FACT,
IS THAT I SEEM TO BE ABLE
TO DO MORE AND MORE THINGS,
THAT MAY JUST BE BECAUSE
IF YOU LIVE LONG ENOUGH,
YOU'RE THE ONLY ONE LEFT.
I DON'T KNOW WHY
IT IS, BUT YES,
THERE ARE SOME INCREDIBLE
PARTS SUDDENLY THAT SEEM
TO BE COMING ALONG, FOR
WHICH I AM, OF COURSE,
EXTREMELY GRATEFUL.

Richard says I THINK ONE OF THE
WONDERFUL THINGS IS THAT
A LOT OF THE GREAT DRAMA
OF THE 20TH CENTURY
IS NOW BEING EXPLORED
SERIOUSLY, PLAYS THAT PEOPLE
USED TO KIND OF SHOVE IN
EITHER HISTORY BOOKS OR SAY
THEY WERE OLD HAT: THE
WORK OF EUGENE O'NEILL,
SOME OF THE WORK OF
TENNESSEE WILLIAMS.
THEY'RE SUDDENLY REALIZING
THAT THEY'VE GOT AS VIBRANT,
FULL-OF-LIFE ON THE STAGE
AND BELONG IN A FESTIVAL
WITH WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE.
HAD YOU ALWAYS
LIKED WILLIAMS,
BECAUSE YOU SEEM TO TEAR
INTO HIM LIKE HE WAS
BREAKFAST, LUNCH,
AND DINNER?

[chuckling]

Martha says I LOVE WILLIAMS;
I'M AMERICAN-BORN,
AS YOU KNOW -
SO ARE YOU.
AND THERE'S SOMETHING
ABOUT THOSE INDIGENOUS
AMERICAN PLAYWRIGHTS
THAT WROTE THOSE GREAT,
GREAT PLAYS BACK DURING THE
TIME WHEN WE WERE GROWING UP
THAT MAKES YOUR
HEART POUND, I THINK.
I PLAYED LAURA IN
THE
GLASS MENAGERIE
WHEN I WAS
THE RIGHT AGE TO DO IT, WHEN
I WAS IN MY LATE TEENS,
EARLY TWENTIES, IN
SUMMER STOCK -
IN LEAMINGTON, ONTARIO,
AS A MATTER OF FACT.
AND THAT'S THE ONLY
WILLIAMS I'VE EVER DONE.
I'M GETTING A CHANCE TO PLAY
AMANDA IN
THE GLASS MENAGERIE
IN TORONTO AT THE TARRAGON,
AFTER THE PRINCESS
KOSMONOPOLIS IN
THE
SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH
HERE AT THE FESTIVAL.
SO, IT'S AS IF I'M COMING
BACK TO TENNESSEE AFTER
A LONG TIME AWAY AND SEEING
HIM REALLY WITH NEW EYES.
WHAT I DIDN'T EXPECT WITH
SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH
WAS THAT IT WOULD
BE SO INNOCENT.
I GUESS I THOUGHT WHEN
I FIRST READ THE PLAY,
THIS IS A PLAY ABOUT
FAIRLY SEAMY THINGS,
INCLUDING CASTRATION, AND
THAT THIS IS GOING TO BE
QUITE DEPRESSING TO DO.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Martha Henry. Actor."

Martha continues ON THE CONTRARY.
HE SEEMS TO, IF YOU
GIVE HIM AN INCH,
HE GIVES YOU
BACK A MILE.
HE'S SO GENEROUS
WITH THE WRITING,
AND THERE'S SOMETHING SO
EXTRAORDINARILY INNOCENT
ABOUT THE POWER OF HIS
SPIRIT AND HIS MIND AND
THE WAY HE VIEWS PEOPLE.
HE GIVES EVERYBODY THE
BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT;
HE GIVES EVERYBODY
A CHANCE.
HE LOVES THE LOSERS,
HE LOVES THE PEOPLE
WHO ARE MISFITS
IN SOCIETY.
HE GIVES THEM ALL OF HIS
WARMTH AND HIS HONESTY,
AND
SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH
HAS TURNED OUT TO BE
AN EXTRAORDINARILY FULFILLING
AND LIVELY AND, INDEED,
LUSTY THING TO PLAY.

Richard says I MENTIONED TO A COUPLE
OF PEOPLE, OF COURSE,
I WAS COMING TO TALK TO YOU,
AND THEY WENT, OH, YES,
MARTHA HENRY - GREAT
ACTRESS, STRATFORD, YEP.
I SAID, WHAT ELSE DO
YOU KNOW ABOUT HER?
AND THEY ALL KIND OF WENT,
GREAT ACTRESS, STRATFORD,
A COUPLE OF MOVIES.
PEOPLE, I GUESS, MAYBE
BECAUSE THEY EITHER HAVE
SHORT MEMORIES OR YOU HAVE
NOT DWELT ON IT MUCH,
TALK ABOUT HOW YOU GOT
STARTED AND WHERE YOU CAME UP
FROM, AND HOW YOU GOT
TO WIND UP HERE TODAY.

Martha says WHEN I WAS IN MY TEENS, I
WAS BROUGHT UP TO STRATFORD
FOR THE FIRST
TIME BY MY MOTHER,
AND THEN CAME UP A COUPLE
OF YEARS IN A STATION WAGON
WITH A NUMBER OF
OTHER GIRLS MY AGE,
AND WE WERE BROUGHT UP
BY OUR DRAMA TEACHER
FROM HIGH SCHOOL.
I WENT TO UNIVERSITY
IN PITTSBURGH,
AND WHEN I GRADUATED
FROM UNIVERSITY,
THE PLACE I WANTED TO BE WAS
A PLACE THAT HAD A THEATRE
SUCH AS THIS ONE.
AT THAT TIME, THERE WERE
NO THEATRES LIKE THIS IN
THE STATES; THERE WAS THE
ALLEY THEATRE IN HOUSTON,
THERE WAS THE ARENA
STAGE IN WASHINGTON, D.C.,
BUT THE WORLD OF THE
REGIONAL THEATRE
WAS REALLY QUITE SMALL.
AND I KNEW THAT ANY COUNTRY,
ANY PLACE THAT COULD BUILD
A THEATRE SUCH AS THIS
ONE THOUGHT AND BELIEVED
IN THE WAY THAT I
WANTED TO WORK.
AND SO, I JUST
WANTED TO BE NEAR IT.

Richard says VIRTUE BY ASSOCIATION.

Martha says YES.
AND SO, HAVING GRADUATED
FROM UNIVERSITY,
ALL THE KIDS THAT I KNEW
WERE GOING ON TO NEW YORK.
WELL, I WAS MUCH TOO SHY;
I WASN'T A GREAT BEAUTY.
I DIDN'T HAVE THE KIND OF
THING THAT I THOUGHT
YOU NEEDED TO MAKE A NAME
FOR YOURSELF IN NEW YORK,
AND EVEN THEN I KNEW THAT
THE KIND OF WORK THAT
WAS BEING DONE IN NEW YORK
WASN'T THE KIND OF WORK
I WANTED TO DO.
AND SO, I CAME TO TORONTO
SO THAT I COULD COME
TO STRATFORD DURING THE
SUMMERS AND I COULD TRY
TO WORK WITH THE CANADIAN
ACTORS, IF POSSIBLE,
THAT I HAD SEEN ON THE
STRATFORD STAGE OVER
THE PAST SEVEN TO TEN
YEARS, BEFORE I GRADUATED
FROM UNIVERSITY.
INDEED, I GOT TO KNOW
SOME OF THEM AND CAME UP,
OF COURSE, TO
STRATFORD EVERY YEAR,
SAW AS MUCH AS I COULD, AND
THEN ALMOST IMMEDIATELY
WENT INTO THE NATIONAL
THEATRE SCHOOL.
IT WAS THE FIRST YEAR THAT
POWYS THOMAS AND JEAN GASCON
WERE STARTING THE THEATRE
SCHOOL IN MONTREAL.
AND THEN WE CAME HERE TO
STRATFORD FOR TWO MONTHS
AT THE END OF OUR FIRST YEAR,
SO THAT WAS, IF YOU LIKE,
MY INTRODUCTION TO
THE STRATFORD SEASON,
THE STRATFORD FESTIVAL.

Richard says NOW, MARTHA, YOU SAY VERY
CASUALLY YOU WERE IN
THE FIRST CLASS OF THE
NATIONAL THEATRE SCHOOL.
THAT MUST HAVE TAKEN AN
ENORMOUS LEAP OF FAITH,
OR BELIEF, TO GET IN ON
THIS WHOLE NEW EXPERIENCE,
DIDN'T IT?

Martha says I THINK IT TOOK A LEAP
OF FAITH ON THEIR PART.
I GRADUATED FROM UNIVERSITY
AND WENT TO TORONTO,
AS I SAID, AND I GOT AN
AUDITION WITH MURRAY DAVIS
AT THE CREST.
AND HE HIRED ME TO BE IN
HIS FIRST REPERTORY SEASON.
IN THAT SEASON WERE A NUMBER
OF EXTRAORDINARY ACTORS:
CHARM KING, BUTCH BLAKE,
AND POWYS THOMAS.
AND POWYS THOMAS,
AT THAT POINT,
WAS WORKING ON THE PLAN
FOR THE FIRST YEAR
OF THE NATIONAL THEATRE SCHOOL,
WHICH WAS FOUNDED BY MICHEL
SAINT-DENIS, AND POWYS
HAD BEEN TO MICHEL'S
SCHOOL AT THE
BRISTOL IN LONDON
AND GRADUATED FROM THERE.
AND SO HE AND GASCON FOUNDED
THE NATIONAL THEATRE SCHOOL
BASED ON MICHEL
SAINT-DENIS'S PRINCIPLES
AND PLACED IT IN MONTREAL,
WHERE IT STILL EXISTS,
AND IT WAS A
CO-LINGUAL SCHOOL,
BOTH FRENCH AND ENGLISH.
I SAID TO HIM, WHEN HE WAS
TALKING ABOUT THIS OVER
THE COURSE OF THAT SEASON AT
THE CREST, HOW EXTRAORDINARY;
I WISH I COULD HAVE GONE
SOMEPLACE LIKE THAT.
I WAS VERY HAPPY
AT CARNEGIE TECH,
BUT I KNEW THAT I WAS
MISSING SOMETHING.
AND FINALLY, AFTER I'D SAID
THIS ABOUT THREE OR FOUR TIMES,
POWYS TURNED
TO ME AND HE SAID,
WHY COULDN'T YOU?
AND I SAID, OH, I COULDN'T
POSSIBLY; I'M AN OLD LADY,
I'M 21, I'VE BEEN
THROUGH SCHOOL,
I'VE DONE ALL
THAT BEFORE.
HE SAID, WELL,
THINK ABOUT IT.
AND I FINALLY - AS CALLOW
AS ONE TENDS TO BE
AT THAT AGE - DID
REALIZE THAT IF I WENT,
I WOULD GO WHEN I WAS 22,
AND IF DID ALL THREE YEARS,
I WOULD BE 25
WHEN I GOT OUT.
AND I THOUGHT, THIS IS
THE PROFESSION YOU'RE
GOING TO BE IN FOR THE
REST OF YOUR LIFE.
WHEN YOU'RE 50, YOU MAY
LOOK BACK AND THINK,
25 WAS REALLY QUITE YOUNG.
WHY DON'T YOU DO IT?
AND SO, I DID THAT; I
LITERALLY TOOK A DEEP BREATH
AND MOVED TO MONTREAL.
I LEFT MY APARTMENT IN
TORONTO AND I'D MADE
A NUMBER OF WONDERFUL
FRIENDS IN TORONTO,
AND I'D HAD A GREAT
YEAR IN TORONTO WORKING.
AND I'D WORKED
PRETTY WELL NONSTOP.
BUT I KNEW THAT I KEPT
COMING TO A PLACE WHERE
I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TO DO.
AND I DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO
FIND MY WAY OUT OF IT,
BUT I THOUGHT THAT THIS
SCHOOL LOOKED LIKE
THE POSSIBILITY OF
GIVING ME THE ANSWER.
SO, I WENT FOR A
YEAR-AND-A-HALF,
AND AT THE END OF
THE FIRST YEAR,
WE DID A PRODUCTION OF
MACBETH
IN THE FESTIVAL
THEATRE, ON THE
FESTIVAL STAGE,
VERY KINDLY GIVEN US
BY MICHAEL LANGHAM.
AND MICHAEL CAME TO SEE
IT, AND SO DID A NUMBER
OF OTHER STAFF PEOPLE
AT THE FESTIVAL.
THE FOLLOWING SPRING, I GOT
A CALL IN MONTREAL TO COME
AND PLAY MIRANDA IN
THE
TEMPEST
AND LADY MACDUFF
IN
MACBETH.
I WENT TO POWYS AND I SAID
THAT I'D HAD THIS OFFER,
BUT AS FAR AS I
WAS CONCERNED,
MY COMMITMENT WAS TO
THE THEATRE SCHOOL,
BUT OBVIOUSLY I WAS TORN.
AND POWYS SAID, I
THINK YOU SHOULD GO.
HE SAID, YOU'LL LEARN MORE
THERE NOW IN THE NEXT
YEAR-AND-A-HALF THAN YOU
COULD IF YOU STAYED HERE.
SO, WITH HIS
BLESSING, I WENT;
IT MEANT THAT I BECAME
THE FIRST GRADUATE OF THE
NATIONAL THEATRE SCHOOL -
LITERALLY, THE FIRST ONE.
AND THEY ACTUALLY
SENT ME A CERTIFICATE,
WHICH I THOUGHT WAS
QUITE SWEET OF THEM.
AND THAT CONTINUED MY
EDUCATION, AND IT WASN'T,
I GUESS, UNTIL ROBIN
PHILLIPS CAME
IN THE LATE
'70s THAT I...
YOU CAN'T SAY YOU
FOUND THE ANSWER,
YOU NEVER FIND THE ANSWER,
BUT THAT THE DOOR TO WHAT
I'D BEEN LOOKING FOR OPENED
THROUGH ROBIN'S EYES.

Richard says BUT WHAT HAPPENED IN
THOSE YEARS IN BETWEEN?
YOU WERE BEING
VERY SUCCESSFUL,
BY MOST PEOPLE'S
CRITERIA.
WHAT DID YOU FEEL
ABOUT YOUR WORK?

Martha says AND I ADORED
WHAT I WAS DOING,
AND I GAINED A GREAT
DEAL OF EXPERIENCE,
AND I GOT TO KNOW
SHAKESPEARE,
AND I LEARNED AN ENORMOUS
AMOUNT FROM SHAKESPEARE.
ALTHOUGH I'D GRADUATED
FROM UNIVERSITY,
I DIDN'T REALLY
HAVE AN EDUCATION.
I SPENT ALL MY TIME
BACKSTAGE IN THE THEATRE.
I KNEW HOW TO OPERATE
A SEWING MACHINE AND
HOW TO PAINT A FLAT,
AND I KNEW A FAIR BIT
ABOUT THE HISTORY
OF PLAYWRITING.

Richard says BUT NOT HOW TO
SCAN BLANK VERSE.

Martha says AND HOW TO SCAN BLANK
VERSE, I KNEW ALL THAT,
BUT I DIDN'T REALLY HAVE
MUCH OF AN EDUCATION.
SHAKESPEARE GIVES
YOU AN EDUCATION;
SHAKESPEARE GIVES YOU AN
EDUCATION NOT ONLY ABOUT
ENGLISH HISTORY AND THE
HISTORY OF A NUMBER OF OTHER
COUNTRIES AS WELL, BUT HE
TEACHES YOU ABOUT PEOPLE,
HE TEACHES YOU RELIGION, HE
TEACHES YOU SPIRITUALITY,
HE TEACHES YOU ABOUT
RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN PEOPLE
AND ABOUT POWER AND ABOUT
HUMILITY AND ABOUT DEFEAT
AND JOY AND SORROW, AND
ALL THOSE THINGS THAT
WE ALL HAVE TO DEAL
WITH ALL OUR LIVES.
AND SO, THAT REALLY WAS THE
GREAT GIFT THAT STRATFORD
GAVE ME THROUGH THOSE YEARS,
AND BY THE TIME I MET ROBIN,
I WAS THIRSTY FOR AND READY
FOR ANOTHER STEP, A DOOR.
I DON'T KNOW HOW TO
DESCRIBE IT, BUT ROBIN,
BY THE VERY POWER OF HIS
INCREDIBLE ABILITY TO TEACH
AND TO GUIDE AND HIS GENIUS
AT READING THOSE PLAYS,
ROBIN WAS ABLE TO ESTABLISH
A GROUNDWORK WHEREBY I COULD
RELAX FOR THE FIRST TIME
IN A NUMBER OF YEARS,
AND SIMPLY LOOK ABOUT
ME AND TRY AND SEE
WHAT IT WAS I WAS AFTER.

Richard says IT'S AMAZING YOU'RE
TALKING ABOUT THIS,
BECAUSE I RECENTLY
SPOKE WITH ROBIN,
AND I MENTIONED THAT THE
FIRST PRODUCTION OF HIS I
SAW WAS MEASURE
FOR MEASURE.
AND I SAID, I WILL NEVER
FORGET THE MOMENT WHERE
AFTER A SCENE FRAUGHT
WITH SEXUAL TENSION,
YOU HAD TO GET WATER ON YOURSELF
RIGHT AWAY TO COOL DOWN.
I SAID, ROBIN, HOW
DID YOU THINK OF THAT?
HE SAID, I DIDN'T THINK
OF IT, MARTHA DID IT.
AND HE EXPLAINED HIS FEELING
THAT HE HAD TO HELP TO TRY
TO KEEP EVERYONE OPEN
AND FEELING THINGS,
AND THEN WHAT
HAPPENED HAPPENED.
IS THAT THE DOOR, IN
A WAY, THAT OPENED UP?

Martha says YES, I GUESS
SO, I GUESS SO.
INDEED, I DID IT, BUT I ONLY
DID IT BECAUSE HE MADE
THE CANVAS WHEREON
I COULD DO IT.
IT'S AMAZING TO
WATCH HIM DIRECT.
I'VE TOLD THIS STORY BEFORE,
BUT WHEN WE WERE DOING
MEASURE FOR MEASURE,
I USED
TO GO AND WATCH REHEARSALS
OF OTHER SCENES, JUST TO SEE
WHAT IT WAS THAT HE DID;
I'D NEVER KNOWN A
DIRECTOR QUITE LIKE THIS.
AND I WATCHED A SCENE
OF ONE OF THE SUBPLOTS,
IF YOU LIKE - THE ELBOW
SCENES - AND I WATCHED
A NUMBER OF ACTORS DOING
WHAT IS COMMONLY THOUGHT OF
AS THE COMIC SUBPLOT.
AND I WATCHED THEM
REHEARSE THIS,
AND I WENT TO THE NEXT
REHEARSAL AND I WATCHED
THEM REHEARSE IT, AND
THE NEXT REHEARSAL
AND WATCHED THEM
REHEARSE IT.
AND IT SEEMED TO ME THAT
THERE WERE A NUMBER
OF THINGS THAT WERE
VERY EASILY FIXABLE.
AND I WONDERED WHY ROBIN,
WHO WAS CLEARLY CAPABLE
OF FIXING THEM, DIDN'T JUST
SAY: WHY DON'T YOU MOVE
THERE INSTEAD OF THERE?
OR, WHY DON'T YOU DO
THIS INSTEAD OF THAT?
HE NEVER DID THIS.
I WENT TO WHAT I THINK
WAS THE FOURTH REHEARSAL;
EVERYTHING HAD CHANGED.
SUDDENLY, EVERYONE WAS
DOING EVERYTHING ABSOLUTELY
INDIGENOUSLY THE WAY
THE SCENE CLEARLY
WAS MEANT TO GO,
IF YOU LIKE.
IT'S NOT THAT IT WAS
A SCENE THAT WAS DONE
IN ANY WAY I'D EVER SEEN
BEFORE, BUT SUDDENLY THIS SCENE
HAD FOCUS, IT HAD
HUMOUR, IT HAD POINT.
THE STORY WAS TOLD, THE
CHARACTERS WERE FULL;
IT WAS A COMPLETELY
DIFFERENT VERSION AND
RENDERING OF THIS
SCENE THAN I'D SEEN
IN THE OTHER
THREE REHEARSALS.
SO, AFTER THIS REHEARSAL,
I WENT BACKSTAGE
TO THE STAGE MANAGER,
NORA POLLY,
AND I SAID, WHEN DID
YOU REHEARSE THIS SCENE?
AND SHE GOT OUT THE
SCHEDULE AND SHE TOLD ME.
AND I SAID, NO, NO, NO, I
WAS AT THOSE REHEARSALS.
WHEN DID YOU REHEARSE IT
BETWEEN THE LAST TIME
I SAW IT AND TODAY?
AND SHE LOOKED BACK AT THE
SCHEDULE AND SHE SAID,
WE DIDN'T.
AND I REALIZED FINALLY THAT
WHAT I HAD SEEN WAS ROBIN'S
ABILITY TO SOW THE SEEDS
AND TO CLEAR THE GROUND
AND TO MAKE THE
CHOICES, IF YOU LIKE,
THAT WERE MADE INEVITABLE
ON THE ACTORS' PARTS.
HE DIDN'T SEEM
TO DO ANYTHING.
THE ACTORS SEEMED
TO DO IT THEMSELVES,
AND YET HE OBVIOUSLY
PREPARED THE CANVAS
SO THAT ALL THEY COULD DO
WAS WHAT THE SCENE MEANT.

Richard says I ASKED VARIOUS PEOPLE
ABOUT THESE YEARS
IN THE LATE '70s AT
STRATFORD, AND URJO KAREDA
CALLED IT A GOLDEN TIME,
ROBIN CALLED IT A TIME
OF INCREDIBLY HARD WORK.
FOR YOU, IT SOUNDS LIKE
A TIME OF DISCOVERY.
IS THAT WHAT YOU FEEL
BEST ABOUT IT, OR?

Martha says YES, AND IT WAS
INCREDIBLY HARD WORK,
AND IT WAS A
GOLDEN TIME TOO;
IT WAS ALL
THOSE THINGS.
YES, I'VE NEVER
WORKED SO HARD.
I WAS THINKING ABOUT
THAT A FEW DAYS AGO;
I'M DOING TWO
SHOWS THIS SUMMER,
AND TWO SHOWS IS
JUST FINE FOR ME.
IT GIVES ME A
LITTLE TIME TO REST,
IT GIVES ME ENOUGH TO
DO DURING THE WEEK
SO THAT I DON'T SIT
BACK AND SUCK MY THUMB.
ONE OF THOSE YEARS - I
DON'T REMEMBER WHICH ONE -
WITH ROBIN, I WAS
DOING FIVE SHOWS.
AND WE WOULD START
REHEARSALS IN DECEMBER
FOR A JUNE OPENING.
AND THEN WE'D REHEARSE ONE
AND PUT IT ON A KIND OF
BACK BURNER; WE'D
REHEARSE IT ONCE A WEEK.
AND THEN BRING IN ANOTHER
AND ANOTHER AND ANOTHER.
SO, I WAS DOING
FIVE AT ONCE.

Richard says MEASURE FOR MEASURE
IS ONE EVERYONE TALKS ABOUT.
DO YOU HAVE OTHER, I
WON'T SAY FAVOURITES,
BUT SPECIFIC MEMORIES
OF THAT PERIOD?

Martha says OH, YES,
THE DEVILS; UNCLE
VANYA
WAS A TREMENDOUS THING,
THAT WAS ONE THAT WE REHEARSED
FOR A LONG, LONG TIME.

Richard says NOW, WHAT WAS ROBIN
LIKE ON
CHEKHOV?

Martha says WELL, LIKE THAT -
AMAZING.
ESPECIALLY WITH
CHEKHOV
FOR
HIM TO HAVE THE CONFIDENCE
IN THE ACTORS AND THE
ABILITY TO JUST LEAVE
THE SIDEWALK FREE SO THAT
YOU COULD WALK DOWN
IT WAS AMAZING, AND WE REHEARSED
THAT ONE FOR A LONG TIME.

Richard says WAS THAT THE JOHN
MURRELL TRANSLATION?

Martha says JOHN MURRELL
TRANSLATION, YES.

Richard says AND YOU'VE GONE ON
AND DONE, OF COURSE,
LOTS OF OTHER MURRELL
WORK OVER THE YEARS.
I ALWAYS FELT THERE WAS A
GREAT AFFINITY BETWEEN ROBIN
AND MURRELL, AND THEIR
STYLES SEEM TO MESH,
AND I THOUGHT THE IDEA
OF CHEKHOV, MURRELL,
AND PHILLIPS ALL TOGETHER
MUST HAVE BEEN KIND OF
BLISSFUL TO WORK UNDER.

Martha says IT WAS VERY
EXCITING, YEAH.
AND I ALSO DID
FARTHER WEST
WITH ROBIN AFTER I LEFT
STRATFORD IN CALGARY, WHICH
WAS MURRELL'S, OF COURSE,
SCRIPT, AND
WAITING FOR THE
PARADE
TOO, WITH ROBIN,
AT THE GRAND, WHICH
WE ALSO FILMED.

Richard says AFTER THIS GOLDEN
TIME AT STRATFORD,
PERHAPS A LESS HAPPY TIME,
YOU WERE ONE OF THE GROUP
NICKNAMED THE GANG OF FOUR
THAT WAS PICKED TO BE
THE ARTISTIC DIRECTORSHIP
AFTER ROBIN LEFT,
AND YOU WERE QUITE SUMMARILY
TAKEN INTO A BOARDROOM ONE
DAY AND TOLD YOUR SERVICES
WEREN'T NEEDED BECAUSE
THEY COULD HAVE JOHN DEXTER.
AFTER ALL OF THIS TIME, WHAT
DID THAT MOMENT FEEL LIKE?

Martha says OH, IT WAS DEVASTATING.
IT TOOK ME ABOUT TWO YEARS
TO ACTUALLY GET OVER IT,
AND I'M NOT QUITE
SURE WHY.
I'D NEVER BEEN FIRED BEFORE;
THAT WAS PART OF IT.
PART OF IT WAS BECAUSE I HAD
INVESTED SO MUCH OF MY LIFE
HERE, AND I THINK I THOUGHT
OF THE STRATFORD FESTIVAL
AS MY HOME.
AND IT TAUGHT ME A NUMBER
OF LESSONS THAT OBVIOUSLY
I NEEDED TO LEARN.
THE FIRST ONE WAS, NO
THEATRE IS EVER YOUR HOME.
YOU ARE HIRED AND YOU
CAN EASILY BE REPLACED,
AND FOR YOU TO USE A THEATRE
AS YOUR LIFE AND YOUR
LIFE'S BLOOD - I'M NOT
TALKING ABOUT THE THEATRE
IN GENERAL, BUT ANY PARTICULAR
THEATRE - IS NOT HEALTHY.
SO, IT CERTAINLY TAUGHT ME
THAT I COULD LIVE WITHOUT
STRATFORD; IT TAUGHT ME THAT
THERE WERE A NUMBER OF OTHER
THINGS THAT I COULD DO;
AND, AS IT TURNED OUT,
IT WAS HIGH TIME
I LEFT STRATFORD.
IT ALSO TAUGHT ME NEVER TO
BECOME SO INVOLVED WITH
A PLACE THAT YOU STAY THERE
FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.
AT LEAST FOR ME, THIS
IS NOT A GOOD IDEA.

Richard says THE EXPERIENCE YOU WENT
THROUGH WITH THAT WHEN
YOU WERE THEN ASKED TO ASSUME
THE GRAND AND RAN THAT
SUCCESSFULLY FOR MANY YEARS,
ANY OTHER LESSONS YOU
LEARNED THAT YOU
CARRIED WITH YOU...
ABOUT BOARDS AND
RELATIONSHIPS AND DYNAMICS?

Martha says YES, I THINK I LEARNED THAT
THE RELATIONSHIP OF THE
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR TO THE
BOARD IS PROBABLY THE
MOST IMPORTANT RELATIONSHIP
IN THE THEATRE.
IT CAN'T BE THE ONE THAT
CONSUMES ALL YOUR TIME,
BECAUSE YOUR TIME
HAS TO GO TO,
AND YOUR VISION MUST GO TO
THE THEATRE ITSELF - TO THE
ACTORS, TO THE PLAYBILL, TO
THE DESIGNERS, TO THE CREW,
TO THE TECHNICAL PEOPLE,
TO PROPS AND WARDROBE.
BUT IF THAT RELATIONSHIP
WITH THE BOARD ISN'T RIGHT,
NONE OF YOUR OTHER
RELATIONSHIPS ARE GOING
TO WORK, BECAUSE THE BOARD
WILL GET IN YOUR WAY.
SO, THAT'S THE ONE THAT
YOU HAVE TO ATTACK FIRST.
THAT'S THE ONE THAT YOU HAVE
TO MAKE SURE IS SMOOTH;
YOU HAVE TO MAKE SURE THAT
THE BOARD UNDERSTANDS
WHAT YOU'RE DOING, AND
THAT YOU UNDERSTAND
WHAT THE BOARD IS DOING.
AND IF YOU CAN DO THAT, THEN
THE BOARD IS A HUGE SUPPORT;
THEY'LL BE ON YOUR SIDE.
RICHARD MONETTE IS
VERY GOOD AT THIS.
HE HAS A WONDERFUL
RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS BOARD,
AND THEY SUPPORT
HIM COMPLETELY.
AND THAT MEANS THEN
HE CAN GO ON TO DO
THE REST OF HIS WORK.
IF YOU DON'T HAVE THAT,
EVERYTHING ELSE IS SUSPECT
AND EXTREMELY DIFFICULT.

Richard says WHAT DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR
TIME AT THE GRAND THEATRE, PERSONALLY?

Martha says I HAD A WONDERFUL TIME.
IT'S A GREAT THEATRE; I
THINK IT'S THE BEST THEATRE
IN THE COUNTRY.
STRATFORD, OF COURSE,
IS A GLORIOUS PLACE,
BUT THERE'S SOMETHING
ABOUT THE GRAND,
THE THEATRE ITSELF, THE
BUILDING HAS BEEN BUILT
WITH ENORMOUS INTEGRITY, IN THE
SENSE OF IT BEING A WHOLE THING.
YOU HAVE TWO SPACES IN THE
GRAND: YOU HAVE A BEAUTIFUL
MAIN STAGE, AND A
SMALL BLACK BOX,
EXPERIMENTAL THEATRE
STAGE DOWNSTAIRS.
THE ADMINISTRATION OFFICES
ARE WITHIN THE SAME BUILDING.
THE ONLY THING THAT'S OUTSIDE
THE BUILDING IS THE SHOP.
YOU HAVE A SMALL ENOUGH
GROUP OF PEOPLE ON STAFF
SO THAT EVERYONE CAN WORK
TOGETHER TOWARD THE SAME END.
AND THAT'S VERY
RARE IN A THEATRE.
I FOUND THAT THE PEOPLE
WHO WORKED THERE WERE
CONSISTENTLY SUPPORTIVE
TOWARD THE FINAL PRODUCT,
THAT THEY WERE WORKING
AS HARD FOR THE THEATRE
AS I WAS, AS ANYONE WAS.
AND IT'S JUST A
GLORIOUS PLACE TO BE.

Richard says YOUR VISION AND THE
VISION OF, PERHAPS,
THE COMMUNITY AND THE BOARD
DID YOU EVER HAVE ANY
TROUBLE MAKING IT FIT, OR WAS
IT A MARRIAGE KIND OF THING?

Martha says OH, NO, I OFTEN HAD
TROUBLE MAKING IT FIT.
I THOUGHT WHEN I FIRST WENT
THAT THIS WOULD BE IDEAL
THEATRE FOR ME
BECAUSE, OF COURSE,
ANYTHING THAT I WOULD
LIKE, LONDON WOULD LIKE.
I THOUGHT THAT LONDON
AND I WERE OF A PIECE.
AS I GOT TO KNOW THE
COMMUNITY MORE AND MORE,
I REALIZED THAT, IN
FACT, WASN'T THE CASE,
AND THAT LONDON WAS GOING
THROUGH A LOT OF GROWTH PAINS,
LABOUR PAINS,
IF YOU LIKE,
WHICH MEANT THAT THEY FOUND
IN MY EARLY YEARS SOME OF MY
MORE DARING - IF YOU LIKE -
PROGRAMMING CHOICES TO BE
TOO RISQUÉ FOR THEM.
AND I THINK IN
THEIR DEFENSE,
I DIDN'T UNDERSTAND
THAT EARLY ENOUGH,
AND I DIDN'T
BRING THEM ALONG;
I DIDN'T EXPLAIN THOROUGHLY
ENOUGH WHAT IT WAS I WAS DOING.
I GAVE THEM TOO MANY THINGS;
TOO MUCH SWEARING IN PLAYS,
FOR INSTANCE - THEY
DON'T LIKE THAT;
TOO MANY TOPICS THAT THEY
FOUND DISAGREEABLE AND
OFFENSIVE; AND I GAVE THEM
TOO MUCH TOO QUICKLY.
I THINK I SHOULD HAVE
STARTED MUCH MORE SLOWLY,
DONE PROGRAMMING THAT
THEY FOUND MORE EASILY
ACCESSIBLE, AND BIT
BY BIT INTRODUCED
THE MORE OUTRAGEOUS PLAYS.

Richard says WHEN IT WENT THE OTHER
WAY, THERE WAS ONE TIME I
ACTUALLY THOUGHT I'D SEEN A
TYPOGRAPHICAL ERROR BECAUSE
IT SAID, THE GRAND
THEATRE IS PRESENTING
THE ODD COUPLE, DIRECTED
BY MARTHA HENRY.
NOW, THAT WASN'T
A TYPO, WAS IT?

Martha says I ADORE
THE ODD COUPLE.
I THINK IT'S FILLED
WITH ALL KINDS OF STUFF,
AND WE TRIED TO FIND ALL
THOSE THINGS IN THE WORKING
OUT OF THE PLAY
DURING THE REHEARSAL.
TWO FABULOUS ACTORS, VICTOR
ERTMANIS AND HARDY T. LYNAM.
I THOUGHT IT WAS WONDERFUL;
I JUST ADORED IT.

Richard says SO, COMING OFF THESE VERY
SUCCESSFUL YEARS, AS I SAID,
WE KIND OF STEP
INTO THIS NEW,
WONDERFUL TIME
AT STRATFORD.
IT'S BECOME A LEGEND, THE
PRODUCTION OF
LONG DAY'S
JOURNEY INTO NIGHT, THAT
RAN FOR TWO YEARS AND WAS
FILMED, FORTUNATELY, BECAUSE
NOW IT'S BEEN IMMORTALIZED.
NOW, I KNOW IT SOUNDS LIKE
A GREAT PLAY AND YOU ALL
SOUNDED LIKE A GREAT CAST,
BUT DID YOU POSSIBLY KNOW
HOW GOOD IT WAS
GOING TO BE?

Martha says OH, NO, OF COURSE
NOT, NO, OF COURSE NOT.
YOU NEVER KNOW ANYTHING
LIKE THAT, AND, IN FACT,
WHEN I WAS FIRST
OFFERED IT, I SAID,
I COULDN'T POSSIBLY PLAY
THIS; I'M NOT OLD ENOUGH.
AND THEN I THOUGHT, BEFORE I
TURN IT DOWN - I HADN'T READ
IT SINCE I WAS IN UNIVERSITY
I THOUGHT I SHOULD
AT LEAST READ IT.
I OPENED IT UP RATHER SLOWLY
AND CAME TO THE DESCRIPTION
OF MARY TYRONE.
IT SAID SHE WAS EXACTLY
MY AGE - EXACTLY MY AGE.
I WAS SO HUMILIATED,
I CLOSED THE BOOK,
AND IT WAS A COUPLE OF
DAYS BEFORE I COULD
OPEN IT AND ACTUALLY
READ IT AGAIN.
BUT THEN I THOUGHT,
THIS IS WONDERFUL.
ANYTHING I CAN
DO, SHE CAN DO.
I THOUGHT, I'M NOT HAVING
TO PLAY AN OLD LADY.
I WAS THINKING OF HER
AS BEING IN HER 70s.
AND THAT WAS INCREDIBLY
FREEING, AND I THOUGHT, NO,
SHE DOESN'T HAVE TO BE,
SIMPLY BECAUSE SHE
HAS WHITE HAIR; SHE IS
NOT DECREPIT, DESPITE
THE ARTHRITIS
IN THE HANDS.

Richard says AN AMAZING THING IS, IN
OTHER PRODUCTIONS I'VE SEEN,
SHE ALWAYS BECOMES
SAINT MARY - THE POOR,
MORPHINE-ADDICTED WOMAN WHO
WANDERS AROUND AND COULD
HAVE BEEN GREAT ONCE.
AND SHE SEEMS TO BE SAVING
HER WHOLE PERFORMANCE
FOR THE FINAL SPEECH, WHERE
SHE GETS TO TALK ABOUT
WHAT THINGS WERE LIKE.
WHAT I FOUND I KEPT
BEING REPELLED BY,
BUT DRAWN INTO THE PLAY BY,
WAS THAT I UNDERSTOOD HOW
YOUR CHARACTER COULD MAKE
THIS FAMILY DYSFUNCTIONAL
AS WELL.
AND YOU DIDN'T SEEM
TO PULL THE PUNCHES;
YOU WEREN'T OUT TO
MAKE US LOVE YOU,
OR FEEL SORRY FOR YOU.

Martha says OH, SHE'S OUTRAGEOUS,
ABSOLUTELY OUTRAGEOUS,
AND SHE'S VERY FUNNY.
WHEN SHE SAYS AT ONE POINT
TO JAMES, WHEN HE SAYS,
MARY, CAN'T YOU FORGET?
AND SHE SAYS, NO, DEAR.
AND THEN SHE SAYS,
BUT I FORGIVE;
I ALWAYS FORGIVE YOU.
I MEAN, HORRENDOUS, JUST
AWFUL THINGS SHE DOES.
AND I THOUGHT AS I WAS
REHEARSING THIS, YES,
I RECOGNIZE THIS;
I'VE DONE A NUMBER
OF THESE THINGS MYSELF.

[chuckling]

Richard says AGAIN, HORRIBLE CHARACTERS
WHO CAN YIELD WONDERFUL RESULTS.
YOUR LAST PERFORMANCE LAST
SEASON AT THE STRATFORD
FESTIVAL WAS IN
THE LITTLE FOXES.
AND IT'S ONE OF THESE
WONDERFUL VENOMOUS PEOPLE -
TALLULAH BANKHEAD, BETTE
DAVIS HAS PLAYED HER,
LIZ TAYLOR HAS PLAYED HER -
AND YOU HAVE TO LOVE HER
BUT HATE HER AT
THE SAME TIME.
I HAVE THE FEELING
YOU ADORE HER.

Martha says I DO ADORE HER,
I DO ADORE HER.
I WAS QUITE SURPRISED WHEN
I ATTACKED THIS SCRIPT
TO DISCOVER IN MANY WAYS
WHAT A CHILD SHE IS,
THAT THERE ARE CERTAIN
PORTIONS OF HER THAT
HAVE SIMPLY NEVER
GROWN UP.
SHE HAS NEVER HAD
WHAT SHE WANTED;
SHE'S LIKE A WOMAN WITH SOME
CASE OF ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT.
SHE HAS NEVER FOUND ANY
KIND OF FULFILLMENT.
SHE SAYS AT ONE POINT:
THEN PAPA DIED AND LEFT
THE MONEY TO BEN
AND OSCAR.
HER FATHER LEFT THE MONEY
TO HER TWO BROTHERS.

Richard says IT'S LIKE THE KID WHO
DIDN'T GET THE DONUTS.

Martha says THAT'S RIGHT, SHE'S
NEVER GOTTEN OVER THAT.
AND SHE WAS NEVER PAID ANY
ATTENTION TO WHEN SHE WAS
YOUNG, OTHER THAN AS SHE
WAS HER FATHER'S FAVOURITE.
BUT SHE DID ALL THE
SOUTHERN CHARM THINGS,
SHE BATTED HER EYELASHES,
SHE PLAYED UP TO HER DAD,
SHE IGNORED HER MOTHER.
SHE WAS THE LITTLE
WOMAN, IF YOU LIKE -
THE LITTLE FLIRT
IN THE FAMILY.
AND SHE WENT THROUGH ALL
THAT SIMPLY TO GET A HOLD
ON SOMETHING SO THAT SHE
COULD HAVE SOME FREEDOM,
SO THAT SHE COULD BE A WOMAN
AN INDEPENDENT WOMAN,
AN INDEPENDENT
SOUTHERN WOMAN,
WHICH WAS ALMOST UNHEARD OF
AT THE TURN OF THE CENTURY.
AND THEN HER FATHER DIDN'T
LEAVE HER ANY MONEY.
SO, SHE HAD TO MARRY, THEN
SHE MARRIES A MAN WHO ALSO
IS NOT INTERESTED
IN MONEY.
AND WE FIND HER AT THE AGE
OF 40 COMPLETELY HAMSTRUNG:
NOT HAPPY IN HER MARRIAGE
AND NOT ABLE TO GET OUT
OF THIS SMALL TOWN IN
WHICH SHE LIVES,
NOT ABLE TO DO THE ONE THING
SHE'S WAITED ALL HER LIFE
TO DO, WHICH IS GO AND
LIVE IN THE BIG CITY,
GO AND LIVE IN CHICAGO.

Richard says CHICAGO - THAT'S
HER MOSCOW.

Martha says THAT'S RIGHT, THAT'S RIGHT.

Richard says WHEN I WATCHED YOU MAKE YOUR
FIRST ENTRANCE IN THE SHOW,
WHEN YOU'RE COMING
IN AT THE TAIL END OF THIS
DINNER PARTY SCENE, A
THOUGHT CROSSED MY MIND,
AND I SAID, I WONDER HOW
LONG IT HAS BEEN LITERALLY
SINCE MARTHA WAS ON
THE FESTIVAL STAGE?
AND I DID SOME QUICK MATH,
AND IT WAS 17 YEARS,
WASN'T IT?

Martha says IT'S BEEN 17 YEARS, YES.

Richard says NOW, I'M CURIOUS WHAT THAT
FELT LIKE COMING BACK ONTO
THAT SPACE THAT HAD
BEEN HOME FOR SO LONG,
AFTER SO LONG AN ABSENCE.

Martha says WELL, IT DOESN'T
FEEL LIKE THAT,
OTHER THAN IT DID OCCUR TO
ME WHEN WE FIRST WALKED
ONSTAGE FOR THE
FIRST REHEARSAL.
USUALLY, AS YOU KNOW, WE
REHEARSE IN A REHEARSAL HALL.
AND THE FIRST TIME WE
HAD A REHEARSAL ONSTAGE,
THAT DID STRIKE ME, THAT IT
HAD BEEN THAT LONG SINCE I'D
STOOD ON THAT STAGE, BECAUSE
THERE'S NO OTHER STAGE LIKE IT,
OF COURSE, IN
THE WORLD.
BUT THEN AFTER THAT, YOU
DON'T THINK ABOUT THAT.

Richard says BUT WHEN YOU SAY IT DOES
STRIKE YOU, WHAT IS IT?
IS IT MEMORIES, IS IT
GHOSTS, IS IT THE PAST?

Martha says NO, NOT REALLY; I JUST
WALKED OUT THERE AND
I THOUGHT, OH - OH,
YES, THAT'S RIGHT.
I REMEMBER THIS.
OH, IT'S BEEN A LONG
TIME, HASN'T IT?
BECAUSE YOU DEAL MUCH
DIFFERENTLY WITH THAT STAGE
THAN YOU DO WITH
ANY OTHER.
BUT THEN I DIDN'T THINK
ABOUT IT AFTER THAT.

[chuckling]

Richard says WHAT ABOUT THE FUTURE?
DO YOU PLAN?
WE KNOW THERE'S
THE
GLASS MENAGERIE.
HAVE YOU LOOKED INTO
YOUR CRYSTAL BALL
OR LOOKED INTO WHAT
YOU WANT TO DO?

Martha says I WOULD LIKE TO DO
SOME MORE DIRECTING.
I DIRECTED OVER 20 PLAYS
WHILE I WAS AT THE GRAND,
AND I DID FREELANCE
DIRECTING BEFORE
I STARTED AT THE GRAND.
I WOULD LIKE TO
DO MORE OF THAT.
I LOVE IT, I ENJOY
DIRECTING VERY MUCH,
AND I'M NOT A ROBIN PHILLIPS
BY ANY STRETCH OF THE
IMAGINATION, BUT I'VE TRIED
TO LEARN EVERYTHING I COULD
FROM ROBIN, FROM RICHARD
MONETTE, FROM JOHN HIRSCH,
FROM ERIC TILL, FROM
DIANA LEBLANC,
FROM ALL OF THE REALLY
FINE DIRECTORS
THAT I'VE WORKED WITH.
AND I DON'T DO ANY HARM.
[chuckling]
AND I LOVE DOING IT, AND I
SOMETIMES DO IT QUITE WELL.

Richard says YOU ALWAYS DO
IT QUITE WELL.
MARTHA HENRY, THANK YOU
VERY MUCH; KEEP DOING IT.

Martha says THANKS, RICHARD.

Richard faces the screen and says FOR
DIALOGUE, I'M
RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.
GOODBYE FOR NOW.

Music plays as the end slate reads “Dialogue.”

A production of TVOntario. Copyright 1996, The Ontario Educational Communications Authority.

Watch: Martha Henry