Behind the Scenes of Spoon River Anthology: Dave

(Photo by Tracy Kolenchuk)

This year’s musical barely had time to leave the backstage corridors of Keyano Theatre before the cast and crew of our next production, Spoon River Anthology by Charles Aidman and Naomi Caryl Hirshhorn, directed by Fort McMurray theatre legend Karen Towsley, moved in to start their journey.

Spoon River Anthology is a hauntingly beautiful piece, with warmth, humor and plenty of emotional moments. It is different in the way that it’s built: instead of back-and-forth dialogue, the story is moved forward by monologues, soulful song and music interwoven in the stories.

One actor in the cast that has really taken to the format of Spoon River Anthology is Dave Martin. You might have seen Dave around Fort McMurray’s music scene before, as he is not only a husband, father and mentor but also a program facilitator, songwriter and a folk musician. He has been writing songs for 12 years and performing music for more than 25 years! Originally from Cumbria, England – just a stone’s throw away from the beautiful Lake District – Dave moved to Canada with his family 37 years ago. He has now been a Canadian citizen for 30 years and lived in small communities in Alberta and the NWT all his life. Having worked an incredible wide array of jobs, Dave now facilitates the Legacy Instruments of Change in Wood Buffalo. This mentorship program connects under-served youth ages 9 to 19 years old with Instruments of Change that uses music to develop one-on-one relationships between youth and adults. He also hosts The Indie Spotlight, a weekly showcase of local and Canadian independent musicians on 91.1 FM the Bridge as well as volunteer on local boards and with the Full Moon Cafe, which has a new home this year at The Arts Foundry on Fraser Ave.

Dave pictured during the 2014 KTC production of Les Miserables directed by Claude Giroux. Photo: Foto Source

What is it like being involved in Spoon River and work with a professional artistic team?

“This is only my second KTC show. I was grateful to be in the ensemble during KTC’s Les Miserables (2014). I just try to shut up and absorb it all because this is not my wheelhouse, I’m a newbie to the theatre arts. I auditioned for Spoon River Anthology by being myself – a songwriter and a performing folk artist. What a learning curve this is! This is a new adventure for me. During Les Miserables I learned to “trust the process” and find ways to support the show and all the actors, I am revisiting the stage and learning to trust a new team. This time I have more to do; I have monologues to learn, and I get to compose music and melody lines.
I get to support the talented cast with music accompaniment which suits me because my guitar is like a security blanket on stage!

Directors and Stage Managers are like wizards to me. I have a great respect for their craft; Karen Towsley and Barry Cook take a civilian like me and plug me into a complicated tapestry of physical movement, emotional dialogue, set changes, wardrobe changes, choreography and songs… This is so different from performing as a solo musician and that makes it scary but exciting too. I’m physically sore and emotionally raw after 8 hours of rehearsal but in a good way. I’m emotionally invested and so is the Director and Stage Manager and that can carry you through hours of rehearsal.”

The cast of Les Miserables (2014). Photo: Keyano Theatre

“I love seeing the Director, the actors, the Stage Manager and the assistants reconstitute their craft every day. I’m seeing everyone’s passion; each actor’s laughs and cries as they create endearing characters. Instead of sitting in an audience consuming the theater arts, I get to contribute and support the cast and crew to create something that did not exist a few weeks ago. Its an honour to be in there hurting and laughing. The largest challenge for me is feeling naked when I am not holding an instrument! What do I do with my arms?

Spoon River is coming alive right before us! For these few weeks the cast and crew will bee living and breathing Spoon River and then there is one final piece… the audience. Maybe you will know a cast member, or you have a love of prose. Give yourself and a friend a gift: get a ticket, Destination: Spoon River. Its a small escape and the theater seat looks so much better with you in it!”

Dave with the Spoon River Anthology cast, Director Karen Towsley and Stage Manager Barry Cook. Photo: Supplied


Preview: April 27, 8:00 pm
Opening: April 28, 8:00 pm
Show dates: April 29, May 3, May 4, May 5, May 6, 2017 8:00 pm

Tickets available at

Genre: Drama
Rating: Appropriate for all audiences

In the fictional small town of Spoon River we are introduced to the ghosts of the people that were once its inhabitants who took their secrets to the grave. While exploring the evocative story, both the sad and humorous sides of life are portrayed in the haunting performance with fetching ballads and the free verse of Edgar Lee Masters.

“A dramatic presentation reduced to its simplest terms… moving and beautiful… An evening of astonishingly stirring emotional satisfaction.” – New York Post

“A glowing theatre experience… A brooding and loving American folk poem brought to life on a stage.” – The New York Times


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