Robert Martin has been on-stage for many years, but he recently finished his first-ever stint as the director of a live theatrical production.
Martin has been doing theatre since the production of Auntie Mame at R.D. Parker Collegiate in Thompson, when he was in high school. He joined Prairie Players in Portage la Prairie in 2012 and has been having a blast ever since.
Along with his co-director Rosa Rawlings, who is also the president of Prairie Players, Martin had his directorial debut in the production of Jack of Diamonds in late April.
"I wanted to try it and see what happens, and I've been kind of thinking about it for the last couple of years or so," says Martin. "I found this great Canadian comedy play and just thought I'd take it to the membership and see what they think. As soon as Rosa read a little bit of it, she said, 'Yeah, we've got to do this one. It's just hilarious.'"
Martin does not plan to go anywhere now that he's got the theatre bug again. He had not been involved in a production since the COVID pandemic. He says being someone else for a few hours, on-stage, is a lot of fun. If he ends up off-stage directing another show, that would be great, too.
"I'm not sure if it will be the fall production or maybe the following spring, but I would probably get back on stage," says Martin. "Hopefully, in the near future, I'll maybe be able to do another directing job. See what happens, as long as my eyesight holds out for now, I'll be able to do that."
Martin does not know how long he will be able to keep being on-stage, but he will not let his situation slow him down, even if it does make things difficult.
"I am visually impaired. I was diagnosed at 24-years-old with a form of glaucoma called pigmentary glaucoma," says Martin. "I've lost quite a bit of my sight now. I've got less than 50 per cent of my sight. Just you and I sitting here, I could hardly see your face."
Martin admits he does get frustrated, as even pouring a cup of coffee can be tough. But, he doesn't want your sympathy -- he wants opportunity for people like him.
"My message to the sighted world out there is that we can do things," says Martin. "We are not, 'Disabled not able to do anything' society. There's lots of things that we can still do if we can get the chance to do it."