Gear­ing up for ‘Driv­ing Miss Daisy’

GA Voice - - Acting Out - By JIM FARMER

He’s been act­ing a long time, but Nat Martin has ap­peared in the award-win­ning “Driv­ing Miss Daisy” more times than any other show he’s done. The com­edy-drama, writ­ten by Al­fred Uhry, opens next week at On­Stage At­lanta for a lim­ited en­gage­ment with an out di­rec­tor — Cathe Hall Payne — and a mostly gay cast, in­clud­ing Martin as Hoke and DeWayne Mor­gan as Boolie. We caught up with Martin re­cently to get his take on why the play means so much to him.

Ge­or­gia Voice: So how many times have you played the role of Hoke now?

Martin:

This is my ninth pro­duc­tion, most in the At­lanta area. The first time I did it, I did it at Cen­ter Stage New York. I got a phone call out of the blue and the (orig­i­nal) ac­tor wasn’t able to do it. We re­hearsed for two weeks and then we were up. I did it with Neigh­bor­hood Play­house when they were in De­catur and with

New De­pot Play­ers in Cony­ers be­fore this.

What is it about Hoke that you like so much?

I am not af­fil­i­ated with a lot of the­aters that are do­ing shows with char­ac­ter roles for African-Amer­i­cans. I am thrilled any time I get to do it. Hoke re­minds me of a com­bi­na­tion of my mom and my dad. What he goes through is some of the things they have gone through in their lives. I can’t say I haven’t had any prej­u­dice in my life, but not as much as they have had.

My fa­ther told me about a time when African Amer­i­cans couldn’t even get on the trol­ley in At­lanta. In Avon­dale Es­tates, black peo­ple had to be on their way home by five or there was a prob­lem. Things have changed, at least for me to be able to have a home there.

What makes this ver­sion spe­cial?

Out ac­tor Nat Martin says that the char­ac­ter of Hoke re­minds him of his par­ents. (Cour­tesy photo)

I re­ally like work­ing with Cathe. She will de­fer to the char­ac­ter; find out how they feel. And DeWayne was a sur­prise to me. When Cathe told me she was go­ing to cast him, I had not seen him in a role like this. But he is very good.

Is this as top­i­cal now as when it was writ­ten?

There was a time when I re­mem­ber some­one say­ing the piece was dated, but in light of some of the things that have hap­pened in the United States, es­pe­cially in re­gards to race re­la­tions, it is ob­vi­ously not the case. We still have not found a way to have con­ver­sa­tions about race re­la­tions.

How long have you been act­ing?

I have been act­ing for a re­ally long time, since I was a kid do­ing pup­pet shows in the base­ment. My first show here was “Camelot” at Neigh­bor­hood Play­house. A fa­vorite role was in “Sec­ond Sa­muel,” writ­ten by Pamela Parker. I got to go to Aus­tralia in 2010 for the in­ter­na­tional de­but for the show. I also like to di­rect when I have time and I am also a writer.

Does be­ing gay af­fect what kinds of roles you go af­ter?

No. For me, it’s re­ally all about the right role at the right time.

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