Unsung Heroes - Karen Martin, Executive Director
What does being Executive Director for CLT entail?
I’ve had the amazing opportunity to work with CLT as Executive Director for nearly 8 years. The responsibilities include daily operational ove
rsight, liaison with board, artistic and production teams. I work with all the committees and externally with sponsors and the City of Auburn. It’s ever changing and has a broad spectrum of responsibilities. With an always changing and morphing all-volunteer organization, I’m one of the constants, helping bridge the past with the future. The future being the most important part; evolving with and for our patrons and future stakeholders in CLT, including future patrons we haven’t even met yet!
How long have you been involved with CLT?
I’ve been involved with CLT for nearly 20 years. I can go by my daughter’s age when she began her love of theater at the age of 3, performing in Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat. Although I’ve been around theatre since approximately 8 years old. Primarily through my brother Richard Martin, who has always had a love of theatre and in the past owned a theater company called Stage Masters. Additionally, my mom, Doris Martin, was the owner of Drapeau’s Costume shop for much of my younger years! Theatre has always been a family thing.
What other roles do you fulfill at the theater?
I’ve fulfilled several roles at CLT including member of the board, executive producer and several production roles including costuming, props and set décor. One of my passions is in the area of costuming. I’ve had the opportunity to costume performances like Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat, Hairspray, Chicago, Footloose and several other performances. It’s a lot of fun to watch the final piece of an actors character come to life with costuming.
What are some of the challenges you’ve had to face with being Executive Director?
I would like to see CLT be able to financially afford to have a full time executive director again, whether that would be me or a search for someone else. Community Little Theatre has such a rich history, not only as an organization, but through the thousands of volunteers who have made our performances come to life. Our building, while in need of much work, I believe has amazing potential. My greatest challenge is that CLT needs more time and attention on a daily basis to take all the ideas we have and continue to move them forward. We are less than 10 years into our 99 year lease with the City of auburn, so the future is ours to build! I just wish I had more time to help to continue to build CLT into the downtown Auburn arts icon that it is! That’s the hardest part of this role, as a volunteer, just simply not enough time to do everything I’d like to do! For now, many hands make light work.
Has there been a production you’ve liked working on the best?
They’ve all had their best parts, but I truly loved the end result of Chicago. I worked as the costumer and although there were not many costumes, or very full coverage costumes, it made it so much more important for them to be exactly right. I think we achieved that and it was very rewarding.
Have you ever acted on stage before? Would you?
I have been on stage. I performed in a few small grade school performances, variety shows that used to be held at St. Mary’s church (now The Franco Center) and in a few high school performances. I would do it again, it’s fun but learning lines is my challenge. I would be making lines up! I’m not sure my fellow actors would appreciate that.
What can you be found doing when you’re not working at CLT?
Right now, I enjoy time with my daughter and when it’s not the middle of winter I enjoy the outside. I’ve had some life changing events in my life this past year, so I have more to discover in what will take up my free time!
If you had the soundtrack to a musical to a musical stuck in your car’s CD player, which show would you want it to be?
It’s hard to pick just one, but I truly love the music from Phantom of the Opera. Hairspray is a great sing along soundtrack, too!
How has being a part of CLT affected your life?
CLT has brought so many people I would have never met into my life. They have enriched me in so many ways, including my expanded my love of diversity and the great talents we have in our community. It’s also allowed me to be part of something great, having been board President for multiple years and having the opportunity to sign our 99 year lease to our home at Great Falls, it’s been amazing to be part of our future!
Why do you think community theatre is an asset to our communities?
L/A Community Little Theatre has brought so many passionate people who love the arts into our community. Our youth programming for the last few years has developed amazing young individuals who not only love theater and the arts, but are committed and active in improving the arts for L/A today. You can find people who are in key roles at CLT as part of Uplift 40 under 40 as a result of their work here at CLT. We have people who have recently gone on to work on National Tours both performing and as lead production personnel from NYC to Las Vegas. We are an anchor for the arts in L/A with leading edge thinkers who started the organization and those who continue to watch it grow. I wish there was greater awareness in the community for what we do. We want everyone to feel welcome here. We are like a large open armed gentle giant, who often is misunderstood until you become a part of what we do. We are about more than just putting on productions, we are committed to the arts and the importance they have in our vibrant community.