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Check Out Marti Gobel’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Marti Gobel. Marti Gobel is a local actor, director, and teaching artist with professional credits across the country, including as director of The Pleasure Trials which had its San Diego premiere at MOXIE Theatre from August 14 to September 11. See the photos below.

Hi Marti, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I was cast in my first show at the age of 11. The Music Man was a great deal of fun to work on. I remember loving the rehearsal process, my grandmother sewed my costume, and my very large family was in attendance for the Opening Night performance when I uttered my one and only line, “Good Morning, mayor Shin!” I continued to be involved in every theatre production that I could. This coupled with my mother’s belief in exposing her children to the arts whenever she could led to a deep love of not only performing but witnessing actors tell any given story. 

I do, however, come from a long line of educators, so that was my career path. My intention was to become a high school literature teacher. I began on this path at San Diego State and quickly realized that teaching high school was not truly what I wanted to do. Marriage, four children, and life as a stay-at-home mom filled my days for 8 yrs. But I never stopped attending theatre and even produced a series of Readers Theatre productions. 

When my younger children were attending school full time, I decided to return to school myself. I graduated from UW-Whitewater in 2008 with a degree in Performance Theatre and Philosophy (with an emphasis in Religious Studies). I began auditioning in Milwaukee, and before I knew it, I had booked 118months of back-to-back productions. It never stopped. 

The need for a more diverse pool of talent in Wisconsin led me to co-found my now-defunct theater company, UPROOTED theatre. My initial role with UPROOTED was to serve as Managing Director. This I did for two years and eventually took on the role of Producing Artistic Director. I learned EVERYTHING about producing theatre through trial and error, support from veteran Artistic Directors, and attending as many productions as I could manage. I also read (and still do) a ridiculous amount of plays. 

As luck would have it, I was sponsored to attend The Kennedy Center to sharpen my skills as a Teaching Artist. I completed my studies and obtained my certificate for Effective Residency and Lesson Planning. It seems I was to teach after all. For several years I ran UPROOTED theatre’s education program as well as education programs for several theaters in Wisconsin. 

My skill as an actor, director, and teaching artist has led to a rich career. I now travel the country doing all things theatre. 

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
I truly have never lacked in work per se, but I did want different roles than I was initially offered. I wanted to work on not only the stories that spoke to my experiences as an African American but also stories that I loved. Tennessee Williams is one of my favorite playwrights, and I found that most wouldn’t even consider me as an actor for productions. In part, that was why UPROOTED theatre was created. My co-founders and I (all African American) wanted more. To speak those words fueled with our experiences. So, struggle? No. Lack of particular opportunities? Yes. But I was raised to go after what I want. I just created my own opportunities. By doing so, I created opportunities for countless artists of color in the mid-west region. 

I think my biggest struggle is not allowing myself to apologize for my confidence. A verbal, honest, educated black woman is not always appreciated in some circles. Haha. 

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I have no trouble saying that I have an incredible physical and vocal range. I am blessed with an instrument that can be whatever it needs to be in order to tell the story. This fact has led me to becoming a master at the one-person show. To date, I have done 9. My first was Beauty’s Daughter by Dael Orlandersmith. My last was Neat by Charlayne Woodard. Neat changed my life. It has toured many, many times, enjoying a run in South Africa. It was an incredible experience. 

I have grown just as much as a Teaching Artist. My early years in standard education allowed me to truly understand how our species processes information and how to address a myriad of learning styles. My work at The Kennedy Center gave me a deep understanding of how my craft can support learning in all subjects through theatre. Until last year, I served as adjunct lecturer at UW-Milwaukee, Marquette University, and Carthage College crafting and executing several courses for ranging from Acting Theory and Movement to Explorations of Multi-Cultural Playwrights. For a third year, I will serve as an Irene Ryan adjudicator for the KCACTF, Region III festival. 

I am most proud of the many artist of color I have supported over the years. I have ushered many actors into the professional arena and just as many designers. By creating opportunities for myself, I created opportunities for others. May it always be so. 

As I said before, I am pretty confident. This combined with an extremely high work ethic makes me a perfectionist, as well. I think both of those primary traits are tempered with a bone-deep collaborative spirit. I am direct, but I am kind. And I love to laugh! 

Have you learned any interesting or important lessons due to the Covid-19 Crisis?
Yes. I know it was necessary for the industry to survive; however, I am not a fan of turning theatre into film. We must gather in a way that reminds us that we are human. We must breathe together, laugh together, cry together, and experience theatre together in order for it to truly have a leaving on the fabric of humanity. Storytelling is part of what has helped our species survive long before we had screens to look at. And, long before, stories were just for entertainment. Theatre is necessary soul food. I knew these things before the pandemic. Now, understand just how important live theatre is. 

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Image Credits

Bernadette Trucco
Daren Scott
Sarah Alida LeClair
Andréa Agosto
Sutheshna Mani
Sharon Taylor

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