The Accademia dell’Arte is dedicated to training the actor/creator. All of our Alumni go out into the world with a new perspective on what it means to be a true, whole artist in today’s world. Benjamin K. Martin is no exception. In fact, you can find Ben doing just about anything in NYC; from directing to filmmaking to composing music to even working with dance theatre companies. This literal jack of all trades is doing it all and doing it well!
When did you attend the Accademia?
I attended the Accademia Spring 2011.
What did you study there?
I studied theatre.
What University were you coming from?
I came from Boston University.
What was your favorite thing about the program?
My favorite thing about the program was how worldly and interdisciplinary it was. As students, we were afforded a rare opportunity to approach the craft through incredibly varying techniques and cultural lenses. And Charita’s cooking. And the view. Let’s be honest, the whole thing is amazing.
Can you share a favorite memory or story from your time in Italy outside the classroom?
Over the course of the semester, I made friends with a bunch of the locals via the Accademia staff and because I frequented the bar Aurora. One summer night, after the program was over, a handful of these pals took me to Bistro, an outdoor bar downtown, and gave me quite a surprise! They had coordinated with the DJ and the owner to have me–their “American beat-boxing friend”–give a 15 minute performance. I was sort of terrified at first, but ended up having a blast. Such a fun community. Mi mancano i miei Aretini.
Do you have any “must sees” while in Arezzo?
Piadina. Eat one. I think the best place was called “La Tua Piadina”.
What were some of the biggest “take aways” from your time at the Accademia?
The most important thing I took away from the Accademia was a greater sense of purpose as an artist. Beyond the unique training, the program perpetuates a philosophy that reinforces the power of the artist, particularly in times of crisis. Scott McGehee’s lectures and Emilija’s philosophy class provided me ample tools with which to build a framework around my craft.
Do you stay in touch with anyone from your class?
I do stay in touch with people from my class! There have even been a few collaborations. I would like there to be more.
What have you been up to since the Accademia?
Since the Accademia, I’ve pursued a multifaceted career in New York City as an actor, writer, director, producer, dramaturg, musician, consultant, and whatever else I happen to come upon. A few particular triumphs include starting a production company, developing and directing a handful of unique plays, appearing on national television multiple times, and playing in a band. One very cool thing that I was very fortunate to partake in, and which very directly relates to my experience at the Accademia, was serving as Managing Director for the international women’s dance company Codice Rosso when they performed at BAM. I would never have gotten that gig if I hadn’t developed a vocabulary in dance theatre (and if I didn’t speak Italian).
Can you tell us more about Fox Yew Media? What was your motivation to start this company? Who else has been involved?
“Fox Yew Media is a company dedicated to production of film, theater, music, and various artistic events that strive to enchant the disenchanted and bring about a new generation of interdisciplinary artistic collaborations.” That’s the log line, at least. It’s a production company that I was inspired to create as a result of my time working with the LAByrinth Theatre Co in NYC. It’s an outlet for the creative endeavors of my friends and collaborators. We’ve produced a short film and a music video, are currently co-producing a feature, and are about to produce a full-length play.
What difficulties and triumphs have you encountered in your work?
The greatest difficulty with the work is almost always money, unfortunately. Especially with film, because it’s so expensive to produce something of quality. There’s such an abundance of creativity in this city, but not enough funding to go around. It’s an inherent issue with our country as a whole, I suppose. Subsidy of the arts has never taken priority.
The greatest triumphs, in direct response to these financial difficulties, is watching a project come to fruition and eventually make it’s way in front of an audience. I thought my first short film was going to have a pocket-lint budget and would only be seen by my friends and family. To watch it grow into a $15,000 production with a professional cast and crew, and becoming a real festival contender, has been a true blessing (and a lot of work)!
Tell us more about your current projects. When and where can people see you and your work?
Out of my handful of current projects, the one that most directly relates to my work at the Accademia is a play I’ve written that’s being workshopped this summer called La Llorona, a re-imagination of (and prequel to) Shakespeare’s The Tempest. It’s a very politically-minded piece of theatre, exploring post-colonialism in Latin America and challenging ideas of cultural appropriation. It’s also going to involve many art forms, including original music, spoken word, stage magic, and projection mapping. Really looking forward to this one. As for my other projects, people will be able to see them once they hit the festival circuit.
What kind of person might be interested in similar work and how might they go about pursuing this.
To the people that are looking to walk many different paths on their journey, I would simply recommend this: proceed as the way opens. One thing can lead to something seemingly totally unrelated. A person you act with in a play might need a director for their film. A production company you build a website for might want to see your acting reel. Go volunteer at a theatre you love, maybe they’ll keep you around. I mean hey, I met the women from Codice Rosso while bartending! Just keep an open mind and an open heart. Even if you identify solely as a “performer,” my advice would be to not allow that to limit you. You’re a creator. Keep creating. Don’t just pound auditions and cross your fingers that something might fall into your lap. Take charge.
Do you have a clip you can share or link to?
Flatland – Music Video (Conceived, Directed, DPed, and Edited by me):
Derailing – Short Film (Written, Directed, Edited by me) – The whole film can’t be made public until it goes to festivals:
Disconnect – This is the show that Codice Rosso did at BAM when I was their Managing Director. I also shot and edited these teasers (they were my first stab at film production):
Last Day – Feature Film that I’ve been working on. It’s projected to shoot in the fall. I shot and edited the trailer and built the site. Currently producing the film, have been in talks to direct it: www.runningfilmmaker.org
The Accademia was a true landmark in my journey as a creator. It shaped my definition of what it means to be a world artist, encouraged my continued practice of physical discipline, fueled my drive for political activism, and taught me the importance of facing life with open arms.
What would your advice be for people considering attending the Accademia? In your opinion who is a good candidate to get a lot out of the program?
If you’re considering the Accademia, think no further. Take the leap. I would recommend the program to anyone and everyone. If you’re looking for a more traditional style of training where you’ll go beat by beat dissecting an Arthur Miller play, you’re not going to find it. But still I say: go. If you’re looking to be a big Broadway star and cringe a little bit at the thought of something as “out-there” as Commedia dell’Arte. Even better: go. Allow this experience to open your mind. It’ll be the best thing that ever happened to you, and it will feed your artistry, no matter what path you’re looking to travel.
Anything else you want to add?