By Cady Kuzmich
Clifton Park — Marty Egan, a Clifton Park-based playwright and actor, took up theatre after retiring from teaching in the early 1990s. When asked whether he ever acted as a kid, Egan said, “Just badly.”
According to Egan, it was his discovery of Ernest Hemingway at age 14 that spurred his desire to become a writer. Egan came across a magazine article detailing Hemmingway’s day to day life — writing for a few hours in the morning, fishing in the afternoon and wandering the streets of Key West in the evening. This all sounded pretty good to teenage Egan who decided then he would one day be a writer.
Originally from the outskirts of Boston, Egan studied history at Boston College before joining the army and becoming a social studies teacher in New York. All the while, he’s been writing and now has six plays to his name. While his work has not been published yet, some of his plays have been produced by community theatre groups over the years.
Egan, who now says he’s the “same age as Bernie Sanders” – 74 years old, taught middle school social studies in Schenectady for over 34 years. He likened a day of teaching history to middle schoolers to “five improvs for a tough audience.” Egan moved to Clifton Park from Burnt Hills in 1992. He now has two kids and two grandchildren.
His experience as a teacher has influenced his writing in many ways, one of which he outlines on his website, “The best way to get the young and the restless interested in history (or anything else) is to connect it with stories, preferably ones with gross and disgusting details. Colonial diets and hygiene were always winners.”
Since retiring, Egan has worked with the Not So Common Players who produced his play, “The Beast” at the Clifton Park – Halfmoon Library in 2013. “The Beast” is a story of Nazi occupation in France during the second World War. He said the Beast took him a couple years to write. Egan went through several drafts before he felt he had finished.
While he’s not afraid to veer into dark territory, Egan’s preferred style of writing is comedy — no easy feat. He’s worked on a Robin Hood play which he said “went very well if I say so myself.” He has another play based on a Washington Irving story in the works which he hopes to complete within the next year.
Egan has authored “Books on Broadway,” “Queen of Hearts” and “National Icon,” and won the Albany Civic Theater’s New Playwrights Competition twice. The Clifton Park Arts Council has produced two of Egan’s plays — “The Stone House” and “Unexpected Company.”
Egan took up acting after drama instructor Jeffery Hatcher insisted, “if you’re going to write for actors, you should be one.” This new on-stage perspective gave Egan a chance to strengthen his writing. He learned how to work within the constraints of a tight budget and limited space.
Most importantly, he said he learned “how much easier it is to memorize lines that aren’t overloaded with adjectives and adverbs.” He notes, “small parts are best if you want to learn how a theater works, because they give you time to observe, to see what works and what doesn’t.”