Guest Blog: Writer Martin Landry on Creativity, Work Ethic and Fish CPR in FUN AT THE BEACH ROMP-BOMP-A-LOMP

"For anyone out there with a creative idea that just won't leave you alone, I hope you'll sit down and flesh it out."

By: May. 21, 2024
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Guest Blog: Writer Martin Landry on Creativity, Work Ethic and Fish CPR in FUN AT THE BEACH ROMP-BOMP-A-LOMP
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As I write this, I'm in a rehearsal room with an immensely talented group of creative people - people who have dedicated their lives to the study and creation of theatre - figuring out what it looks like to revive a fish from the dead. You would not believe the variety of ways one can go about this. If you have some free time, and are absolutely certain you're alone, you should see how many you can come up with. It's fun! 

At moments like this, it's nice to take a brief glance in the rearview mirror and see how far I've come in order to be in a room with working professionals dedicating themselves to the revivification of a fish. And I'm not talking about all the practical obstacles one has to surmount when mounting a new musical (and believe me, there are many); I'm speaking of my own personal evolution. 

The monumental shift in my life began in late 2019. I was primarily an actor who worked at the same (wonderful!) regional theatres over and over again, eking out enough of a living to convince myself that I was doing just fine, thank you very much. Yet I felt lost. Something was missing. 

Fun at the Beach Romp-Bomp-a-Lomp!!
Tom Babbage (Joe), Bradley Adams (Ensemble) and Jack Whittle (Dude)
in rehearsal for Fun At The Beach

I decided I needed something new and began to dabble in real estate. I found myself working harder than I had in a long time. It was the first time in many, many years I had willingly allowed myself to start at the bottom of a totem pole. Despite the challenges, I was strangely surprised that, through hard work and careful application of innate skills, I progressed steadily. Who woulda thunk?

No disrespect to real estate, but that lost feeling didn't go away. Apartment listings didn't light me up the way theatre did. And then it hit me: I was working so hard to make real estate happen, but I had never worked as hard on my chosen vocation. I said I was an actor, a writer, a musician, but where was the integrity required to back up these claims?

In a leap of faith, I left real estate (and the money I was making) and dedicated my newfound work ethic solely to my craft. I wanted to emulate actor/creators such as Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Danny Strong, Tyler Perry, etc. and began a disciplined writing routine for the first time in my life. Fun at the Beach... began to take shape, along with other projects that excited me.

Fun at the Beach Romp-Bomp-a-Lomp!!

Something unexpected also began to happen around that time; it's like a part of me wanted to squash any and all creative efforts and would stop at nothing to destroy this new side of me. My co-writer (the hardworking and perpetually viral Brandon Lambert) gave me a book that saved my metaphorical life: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. If you're feeling stuck, I highly recommend this. Basically, something inside you wants you dead, or at least impotent. It will use any tool at its disposal to make that happen. In my case, those tools were alcohol (no, not alcoholism, just alcohol), social media/news consumption, and approval from others. Also, acedia. Google it. You might see a few cute pictures of sloths, but the rest is pretty grim.

Nothing about those behaviours was salacious or shameful, but they were standing in the way of what I knew I was supposed to be doing, and I allowed it. Thankfully, what began as a desire to be creative became a years-long painful-yet-redemptive process that utterly changed me. 

The icing on the cake is that all this change finally led to actual professionals performing CPR on a fish. No, it's more than CPR - they are beating the s*** out of this rubber toy while giving Long Day's Journey drama. It's incredibly funny; if you don't believe me, may I suggest seeing for yourself?

Fun at the Beach Romp-Bomp-a-Lomp!!
The company of Fun At The Beach in rehearsal

But for me, it's also bizarrely moving. For anyone out there with a creative idea that just won't leave you alone, I hope you'll sit down and flesh it out. Lord knows where it will lead, but perhaps, some distant day, you'll get the quiet satisfaction of watching professionals trying to clap a fish back to life. 

Fun At The Beach Romp-Bomp-A-Lomp is at the Southwark Playhouse from 24 May - 22 June

Rehearsal images credit: Danny Kaan


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