Ken-Matt Martin- Executive Director
Ken-Matt Martin has worked professionally in theatre, TV, and film for the last fifteen years. Martin's career currently includes experience as a director, producer, dramaturge, theatre manager, and actor. In Des Moines he has appeared in both plays and musicals at StageWest Theatre Company, the Des Moines Social Club, and the Des Moines Playhouse. He was twice nominated for the Des Moines Playhouse Dionysus Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his performances in Hairspray (2011) and Shrek the Musical (2014). His other Des Moines acting credits include A Behanding in Spokane, Superior Donuts, Les Miserables, Dutchman, and Clybourne Park. Outside of Des Moines he has worked for the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Tent Theatre, the Nickelodeon network, and has shot numerous commercials and two independent films. Martin spent three years in the Arkansas Repertory Theatre's musical theatre training program under the direction of Nicole Capri and has two degrees from Drake University. In 2014 he directed and produced August Wilson’s Fences at the Des Moines Social Club and won the regional Broadway World award for Best Director. Following Fences he dramaturged the Intergral Artists production of The MountainTop by Katori Hall, provided co-direction and additional choreography for Once on this Island at Des Moines Hoover High School, and directed Shakuntala for Gateway Dance Theatre. Martin also produced A Soldier's Play by Charles Fuller in Des Moines and starred in the production as Capt. Richard Davenport. The production won the 2016 Cloris Leachman Excellence in Theatre Award and Martin also received a special recognition award that same year. Martin recently spent a season as the Apprentice General Manager at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, IL. Martin is currently pursuing his MFA in Directing at Brown University/Trinity Rep. Visit his website at: www.kenmatt.com
Meet Ken-Matt (Interview conducted December 2015):
Where were you born: Little Rock, Arkansas and I am a PROUD Arkansan. It really was a great place to grow up. I haven't lived there for almost a decade now but I miss it.
Favorite Play/Musical: My favorite musical has always been Ragtime and Coalhouse Walker Jr. may be my favorite character of all time. I am transitioning out of acting but I am certain I have a date with that show in my future. It's the only role I've ever really wanted to play. I gotta make that happen! My favorite play is Gem of the Ocean by August Wilson and I got a chance to direct it for my senior capstone project in undergrad. I love the mysticism in all of Wilson's work but the trip to the "City of Bones" in that play is one of my favorite theatrical moments.
First Play/Musical: I was eleven years old sitting center on the very last row of the orchestra level at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre for a student matinee of August Wilson's The Piano Lesson. I can still replay the entire performance in my mind. The following summer I saw the final performance of the Arkansas Rep's production of Dreamgirls. I remember at the end of Act 1 when Roberta Thomas was absolutely killing And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going... my dad and I were the only two people still seated in the theatre. She was getting a standing ovation from the entire audience and we were the only two idiots still sitting down. I was sitting because I couldn't stand up. I was paralyzed by the raw emotion and talent on display. My dad was sitting because he was following the lead of his theatre obsessed son and probably would have stood if I was able to. I'll never forget it. A few years later I spent three consecutive years performing on the Arkansas Rep's stage and made lifelong connections and friendships in this business. It was a dream come true.
Show you hope Pyramid does one day: The first show I saw at the Goodman before I worked there was Pullman Porter Blues by Cheryl West. I've always had a great relationship with my father and grandfather so that play tugged at my heartstrings. There are so few plays that feature Black men actually being fathers to their sons.
Current non-Pyramid related Project: You want the short list or the long? I'm currently spending a season at the Goodman Theatre in the management office so that's what's paying the bills. I'm learning a lot. Everyday is a masterclass in producing and I couldn't be happier. I just signed on to Assistant Direct a new play by David Jacobi called Mai Dang Lao at SideShow Theatre Company opening in Chicago in March. I'm also slated to direct a new adaptation of Shakuntala for Gateway Dance Theatre this summer. We put up a fully staged workshop last summer that was well received and the folks at Gateway decided to produce it for a full run with a larger cast and expanded script. We're working out the schedule now and I have two new drafts in my inbox that I'm procrastinating on reading as I answer these questions. There's a private reading next month and a theatre secured for a June opening in Des Moines followed by a Midwestern tour next Fall. That was the short list.
What does Pyramid mean to you: Pyramid means opportunity and representation. Plain and simple. I started out as an actor at a pretty young age after an audition that landed me a contract with Nickelodeon and my first manager. I've been fortunate enough to play a lot of really great roles in some of my favorite plays and in beautiful productions at that. I'm done acting for now and my focus has shifted. I took a job in theatre management to help me make that transition. You won't see me in any of Pyramid's shows this season. Currently, I am much more interested in creating the same type of opportunities that I had from a young age for other people of color. When we did A Soldier's Play this past summer six of our local Black men in the cast had never done a play in Des Moines. There was nothing targeted at them to help hone their talents and share their gifts. One place that I fell short as a producer the past two summers is providing opportunities for women. The 2016 season at Pyramid is going to fix that and offer all the sisters and the brothers a chance to tell their own stories in this beautiful city that I've grown to love.