Martha MacIsaac performs with Soulpepper Theatre in Toronto
by Lindsay Kyte
Martha MacIsaac just can’t seem to get away from “Emilys.” Now 21 years old and no longer living in New Moon’s backdrop of Prince Edward Island, MacIsaac has this year taken the leap from screen to stage. She is currently playing “Emily” in Soulpepper Theatre’s production of Our Town in Toronto, and says growing up in PEI helped her understand her character’s views on life.
“I think it’s important that I did understand life in a small town because it’s what this play is based around,” MacIsaac says. “Having grown up in a small town, I understand a lot more of the mentality of it all. One of the lines in the show is, ‘Why go traipsing around Europe? You might become discontent with Grover’s Corners.’ I think a lot of people in small towns feel this way. Why bother leaving when you have everything you need here?”
MacIsaac herself left PEI three and a half years ago for Toronto’s subways and Starbucks. After landing a role in last summer’s Soulpepper production of The Wild Duck, MacIsaac says she was thrilled to be cast in Our Town this year, as well as in the concurrent production of The Government Inspector. “I really only move a vase around in that show, but it’s fun,” she laughs.
MacIsaac says that though she finds theatre to be much more difficult than film, her cast mates and experiences at Soulpepper are a great way to get her feet wet. “The people I’ve come in contact with have been amazing. They’ve taught me so much. They’re experienced veterans. I’m so new to theatre and every time I go to work I get to learn from the best actors in the country.”
Besides having to tell an entire story at once as compared to the disjointed storytelling process of camera acting, MacIsaac says acting live on stage has challenges she hadn’t anticipated. “Last summer, someone tried to talk to us in the middle of the show. He started yelling, ‘You’re terrible! You’re a terrible man!’ at my character’s father. I’m not sure if some people think we’re a movie or what. I was just like, ‘Okay, guess we’ll just keep on going then.’”
Though Toronto’s stages have lured her away for now, MacIsaac says PEI is always in her heart. “I go back a lot. I’ve been very fortunate. All my family is back there and my best friends. I miss the sense of community back there. How you can walk down the street and people say hello, even if they don’t know you. Here it’s like everyone’s in their own little world—they go to Starbucks and go to work and never really open the doors for anyone else. And I miss the beaches back home. I’m afraid if I put my foot in the water at a beach here, I’d grow a third leg.”
Besides her Soulpepper productions, MacIsaac is also doing voiceover work for cartoon series Digata Defenders and filming a pilot for a new television series called PGTV. Our Town and The Government Inspector run until March 25 and 23, respectively. www.soulpepper.ca