Who is Jane Martin?
Jane Martin has produced over ten full length plays, six one-acts, and numerous shorts. She has been nominated for the Pulitzer prize, and won the American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award twice. Yet, she has not made one public appearance. No interviews. No pictures. No sightings. Nothing. She has been called “America’s best known unknown playwright.”
In her absence, retired Actors Theatre of Louisville artistic director Jon Jory has accepted her awards and served as her spokesman. Jory claims that Jane Martin is a Kentucky native who wishes to remain anonymous. “Whoever writes these plays feels that they would be unable to write them if (their identity) was made public knowledge.” Theories abound about her true identity, but most believe she is Mr. Jory himself, or a collaboration between Jory and his wife, playwright Marcia Dixcy. Other theories about Martin’s identity include former Actors Theatre of Louisville Executive Director Alexander Speer, former Actors Theatre Literary Manager Michael Bigelow Dixon, and former intern Kyle John Schmidt.
However, many critics consider Jane Martin’s play, Anton in Show Business, proof positive that she is indeed Jon Jory. The satire about three actresses trying to mount a doomed production of Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters skewers every aspect of the art and business of contemporary theatre. It showcases all the character types that comprise the contemporary theatre: the egotistical and machiavellian starlet, the eager community actress, the down on her luck off-off Broadway actress, the over-educated artistic director with degrees from Harvard, Stanford and Yale, the eccentric guest directors, the country singer turned actor, the cynical sponsor with ties to the tobacco industry, and a disgruntled audience member. The lives of these characters interweave to paint a portrait of contemporary theatre in danger of being torn apart by the myriad of economic, artistic, and personal forces that sustain its existence.The critics claim it is a play that could have only been written by someone of Jory’s experience.
Asked if Jane Martin’s identity will be revealed after her death, Jory has stated with a laugh, “That’s a press conference no one will come to. By the time I die, no one will care anyway.” But, really, what it all comes down to is this: whoever she is, we hope she keeps writing!