Martyn is performing in Henry VI: Rebellion as part of the Blackpool Grand Theatre Shakespeare Nation group. Martyn lives near Blackpool with his wife, Catherine. They are both “sandgrown” which means born in Blackpool. Before retiring, he worked as a Sales Training Manager in the retail trade. When he's not rebelling, he enjoys making wooden toys and sailing model boats at the local yacht lake in Fleetwood.

How did I get involved with Shakespeare Nation? The Grand Theatre in Blackpool organised an activities day for voluntary organisations to attend, which captured my interest, and the rest is history. I was roped in and thoroughly enjoyed working with a group of like-minded individuals on their latest project.

I have enjoyed Shakespeare since schooldays (thanks to an excellent English Literature teacher, who dissected and explained the nuances in Mark Antony’s speech from Julius Caesar in an entertaining session), and that really got me interested.

I was given some lines to deliver to camera for a production based on Romeo and Juliet at the Grand Theatre. I attended the final production at the Grand, and was enjoying seeing everybody on stage while sitting (safely) in the audience, when I was shocked to see myself appear on a large screen, declaiming Romeo’s balcony scene lines to the nearest balcony, which was about 500 feet up at the top of Blackpool Tower. My family found it very amusing!

Man wearing a blue checked shirt standing in front of a brick wall
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When we started to consider Henry VI: Rebellion, I found the historical aspects to the play to be really involved. The politics and power plays were fascinating. We read through parts of the play, and were told that we, as a group, could be taking part in the Stratford production!

I had absolutely no aspirations or expectations to be selected for Rebellion, so I was shocked to find myself on the cast list. I don't have any stage experience, other than work presentations to captive audiences of work colleagues, so I am looking forward to being at Stratford with some trepidation.

The rehearsals, voice coaching sessions and Zoom views of the main cast rehearsals have been an inspiration and the sense of excitement in our group is palpable. Just working as a team on this project has been great and I feel happy just to be part of it all. At this point in time, I have two lines to deliver, but if that doesn’t work out for any reason, I won’t be bothered at all. Just to be a part of the production will be enough for me. It is just so exciting!

It has been invigorating and I’m sure that the experience has the same effect on everyone else who is involved. I’m loving every moment.

The whole experience to date has given me a greater appreciation and understanding of Shakespeare and I hope to delve deeper into his works. Meanwhile... ROLL ON THE REBELLION!


Shakespeare Nation and the Rebels

Seventy-four adults from Blackpool, Bradford, Canterbury, Cornwall, Norwich and Nottingham, appear alongside the professional cast in our show Henry VI: Rebellion. They are part of Shakespeare Nation, our community participation programme run with our partner theatres, aimed at people with little or no experience of Shakespeare, either as a theatre-goer or performer. They play the roles of working people who take part in the rebellion led by the character of Jack Cade against Henry VI, and townsfolk when the king is out hunting.

The Shakespeare Nation adult engagement work is generously supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

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