At 72, Martin will be stepping down after the upcoming season at Williamstown. He suffered some health issues that have him a bit reflective in this article.
Still, 2008 was not without its challenges, the most thorny being a stroke that Martin suffered in the fall. He recovered, but lost movement in his left hand, arm, and leg. He now walks with a cane and uses a wheelchair to get around. Last fall he attended an intense physical therapy program in Birmingham, Ala., at the urging of such friends as Victor Garber and Andrea Martin.
“Everything they say about a stroke is true. It’s life-changing in a very frightening way,’’ says Martin, whose gregarious, sharp-witted personality remains intact. “I find I can do my work, but I’m only really happy now when I’m directing or when I’m with my friends. I find my enforced time alone is difficult — and not healthy for me.’’
While he admits that he “can’t honestly say that the stroke made me see life in a new light,’’ his choice to direct Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town’’ at Williamstown July 28-Aug. 8 reflects a man ruminating on life and mortality.
“It’s a play about seizing every single moment in life that you can,’’ Martin says. “As you get older, the play’s last act, which is about life and death, is the one that’s the most sonorous for you. That’s where I am, and I’m not unhappy to be there.’’