On April 30, 2014, the American theatre lost a giant, and The Old Globe lost one of its most valued friends. Nicholas Martin’s relationship with this institution began when he acted here in King Lear in 1957, and it continues to this day as we prepare to open Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike in a production based on his original Broadway direction. The fifty seven year span of his Globe career saw him act in eighteen additional productions and direct six, most recently his acclaimed 2013 staging of Shaw’s Pygmalion. On the opening night of that production the Globe named him an Associate Artist, an honor that he was as proud to earn as we were to bestow.
Nicky, as he was known, loved San Diego and adored the Globe, but the Globe loved him more. At every level of the institution, from artists to staff to Board, he was cherished. He was an uproariously funny man with a room-filling laugh and a bright twinkle in his eye. His wit was scintillating, and although it could be withering, too, it was never, ever mean-spirited. Nicky was a man of the theatre in the deepest sense: every single part of the process of making theater thrilled him. His manner in rehearsal was always gentle and open-hearted, and he was fiercely devoted to his artistic collaborators and their work. He was a generous mentor of emerging talent and a loyal supporter of longtime colleagues.
As a director he was a true servant of the play. His insights as a reader of drama were keen, and his interpretive skills were at an extremely high level. These he coupled to a theatrical imagination that reveled in color, energy, and flair. The result—the Nicky Martin touch—was a theatre that combined virtuosic showmanship with a thoroughgoing sense of humanity and truth.
Though I’d known him and enjoyed his warm friendship for years, I particularly appreciated his huge enthusiasm for my appointment as Artistic Director. Nicky was directing here when I arrived in January, 2013, and I still heed the sage advice and recall with gratitude the strong support he gave me in those early months of my tenure. I speak not only for myself but also for all the constituencies of the Globe when I say that he will be deeply, sorely missed. It was our great good fortune to have had him and his brilliant talent in our lives and we will celebrate his memory in all the work we do.
I should note as well that our Associate Producer Justin Waldman enjoyed a dozen-year professional and personal association with Nicky and was very close with him. To Justin I extend the Globe’s heartfelt condolences.