Director, actor, author / playwright, adapter, translator
Manuel Martín, Jr. was a playwright, dramaturg, translator, director, actor, professor, and promoter of theater. He attended La Inmaculada Concepción Grammar School, the Escuela Pública No. 1 in Artemisa, and later finished three years in the Escuela Profesional de Comercio. On the 27th of October, 1956, he left his parents, Manuel and Amada Martín, his two brothers, and his one sister in Cuba to come to the United States. Martín didn’t leave Cuba for political reasons; rather he came to the United States to study the performing arts. In 1964, he went to New York City to study in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts with Andrés Castro. From 1967 to 1969, he studied under Lee Strasberg in the Actor’s Studio. Later, he attended Hunter College where he graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s degree of Arts in Theater and Films. In a trip to Europe, Martín continued his studies of theater with William Berger in the Teatro Goldoni in Rome.
With the help of Magaly Alabau, a Cuban poet-actress, Martín founded DUO Theatre in 1969. Martín was the Artistic Director of DUO Theatre from 1969 to 1989, and he produced 83 plays during these years. Along with producing plays, Martín was a playwright himself and he also wrote some short stories and articles. The predominant themes of his literary works were the themes of Cuban exile, such as nostalgia and the feeling of not belonging, and the theme of sexuality. His most well-known plays are Swallows (1980), Sanguivin en Union City (1982) and Rita and Bessie (1986). He also wrote and directed many plays for the theaters of off-off Broadway. Martín Jr. explained: "Comencé a escribir teatro con un grupo de actores en mente - el Teatro Duo. Mis primeras obras fueron basadas en hechos históricos. Cuando nuestro gupo se disolvió, realize [sic] que tenía que encontrar mi voz propia sobre los problemas que encuentran los cubanos en los Estados Unidos y en Cuba. Un dramaturgo es el reportero de su tiempo y espero que mi trabajo sobre mi tierra asi lo demuestre" (Manuel Martín Jr. Papers, his own spelling).
In 1971, DUO Theatre combined with Max Ferrá and his theater company, Adal, to form INTAR (International Arts Relations, Inc.). After two years, DUO separated from INTAR, however Martín continued working with INTAR, which produced three of his plays, Carmencita (1978), Swallows (1980), and Union City Thanksgiving (1983). In 1980, Martín was the coordinator of the Playwrights in Residence Laboratory of INTAR. Additionally, from October, 1981 to May, 1983, Martín participated in the Hispanic Playwrights-in-Residence Laboratory of INTAR under the instruction of María Irene Fornés. Apart from DUO Theatre and INTAR, the plays written by Martín were produced in the Festival Latino, the Shakespeare Festival in New York, and in La MaMa Experimental Theater.
When he wasn’t writing or directing plays, Martín was an instructor of theater workshops in New York and in Puerto Rico. He also translated many literary works, such as Dr. Goodmouth, a public education service program for the dental company Colgate-Palmolive, and Los chicos de la galaxia, a play for children. Additionally, he taught in many national and international theater conferences in places such as New York, Miami, and Paris. Martín lived in New York until his death by a heart attack on September 28, 2000.
His collection can be found in Manuel Martín Jr. Papers (Cuban Heritage Collection, University of Miami).
Author: Kristina McIntyre, Lillian Manzor (2008, 2017)