Rapp resident takes top award in regional competition
When Rappahannock resident Brendan Martyn, now 21, graduated from high school and set out for the University of South Carolina, local theatregoers not only mourned his absence on the RAAC Community Theatre stage but also applauded his many achievements while here.
As a seventh grader at Wakefield Country Day School, Brendan first appeared in a RAAC production as the Fool in a “St. George and the Dragon at Christmastide.” He went on to play Peter Pan, the Scarecrow in “The Wizard of Oz,” and Tony Kirby in “You Can’t Take it With You.” His final RAAC appearance as artist Mark Rothko’s assistant in the Tony Award winning play “Red” was one of his finest performances.
Now, Brendan’s fans can enjoy his talents in a new short film produced for a completion by Campus Movie Fest, which calls itself “the world’s largest student film festival . . . [and] the premier outlet for the next generation of filmmakers.”
Brendan and his long-time film partner Tyler Spaid, another USC student, won top awards for best performance and best director in the school’s Campus Movie Fest competition, beating out 200 other entries. Brendan and Tyler will attend the national competition in Atlanta in May.
The 3.5-minute film, titled “Hold Your Applause,” features Brendan as a self-centered actor on opening night of a sparsely attended off-off-off Broadway play. His frustration at a fellow actor boils over into a tantrum on stage in which he throws a bottle and yells at the actors and the audience.
But his rant exposes the very real universal struggles of actors trying to make it in the business. “I’ve been doing this for five years,” he tells the audience. “And what do I have to show for it [besides] a couple of playbills, thousands in debt, and a minor drinking problem.”
When he finally winds down, his anger spent, the audience gives him a standing ovation, which leaves him looking perplexed. (Find the film on YouTube.)
Brendan, a theatre major, and Tyler, majoring in media arts, met freshman year and have been working together ever since.
“It was an awesome thing to find each other,” said Brendan in a recent phone interview. Making films together has been “very, very rewarding.”
He credits RAAC Theatre with giving him the skills and confidence to pursue theatre as an adult.
“There are no closed ears at RAAC,” he said. “It’s a very collaborative effort,” where anyone’s ideas are listened to and taken seriously.
Brendan also had a message for other local kids interested in theatre.
“The RAAC Theatre is a great place to start,” he said, “and a great opportunity to work on craft.”
RAAC Board president Matthew Black sees a broader implication in Brendan’s success.
“Brendan’s story,” says Matthew, “is a wonderful example of the legacy of all those who have been so instrumental in creating a performance environment that encouraged many in the community, especially our children, to spread their creative wings in the company of others.”
— Patty Hardee is the RAAC Community Theatre Artistic Director