“If you think acting in front of him was hard, teaching in front of him was scary!”
A native of Seattle Washington, Martin Barter began acting in high school. An unusual pursuit for the tall, fighting-Irish spirited single child of John and Pat Barter, neither of whom were actors themselves. After a performance in a school play, his English literary teacher told him “…I just want to say one thing to you. That was brilliant; you need to do this with your life. This is what you are.” She was the first of many teachers to deeply influence and change Barter’s life.
After graduating High school, Martin became involved in Seattle’s rich theater community where he worked in over 30 plays. One of the many actors he worked with, Ken Michaels, introduced Martin to his next great teacher, Earl Kelly. Mr. Kelly, part of the American Council of Learned Societies in New York City and the John Hay Whitney Foundation, carefully selected individual students to work in an international humanities program. This exclusive program took Martin across the country to New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, San Francisco as well as Canada, studying art, literature and history. At the completion of this 4 year program, Martin along, with Gale Hansen and a few fellow students, decided to return to New York to pursue their careers in acting.
Once in New York, Martin and Gale sought out the masters to work with. Martin went to Herbert Berghof first. Working as a student, and then becoming one of “Herbert’s boys”, Martin did a number of plays under Herbert Berghof. He also had the opportunity to study with Herbert’s wife, Uta Hagen. From there, he went to the Actors Studio, where he missed working with Lee Strasberg who had just passed away. He then worked under Bobby Lewis and Stella Adler.
But it was once he found the Neighborhood Playhouse and Sanford Meisner that Martin met his greatest and most influential teacher. “When I got to Sandy, I knew I was home.” says Barter. He first studied as an actor, in the Summer Intensive held in Bequia, and then continued to study the full 2 year program under Sanford Meisner. Martin went on to assist and then teacher train directly under Sandy. After which, he was hired to teach the Meisner Technique at the Neighborhood Playhouse for 3 years. “If you think acting in front of him was hard, teaching in front of him was scary!” says Barter.
Even after studying and working under the Master himself, Martin took every opportunity to study and work with other greats, including Geraldine Page, William Hickey, and even Marlon Brando.
Then in 1995, Martin, Sanford Meisner, James Carville and Jill Gatsby opened the Sanford Meisner Center in North Hollywood California with Meisner as Head Teacher, and Barter as Artistic Director. As artistic director, Martin Barter directed six mainstage shows to critical acclaim, and proved instrumental in transforming the center into a respected incubator for actors and writers to collaborate and create new works. Special care was taken to maintain the purity of Meisner’s work, while increasing public visibility of The Meisner Technique. “We call it a center,” Barter said of The Meisner Center, “not a theater, because the theater is only one part of the vision. Hopefully, it’s like a think-tank, a Meisner think-tank, where we can take Sandy’s work, the teaching part of it and the professional part of it into the next century. We try to honor his work, keep it pure, and yet also get it more public.”
Assuring the integrity of Meisner’s work is paramount, because, to Barter:
“One of the advantages at the center, he said, is that all of the actors have been trained in the same way. That makes us unique,” he said, “in that everybody has exactly the same working vocabulary.”
Upon Sandy’s passing in 1997, Martin continued to maintain his legacy for the next 16 years in North Hollywood, California. During that time, he also took the technique to London and around the country as one of the final and preeminent representatives of the Meisner Technique.
Originally located on Lankershim Blvd in North Hollywood, California, The Sanford Meisner Center was the only school in Los Angeles created by Sanford Meisner himself. In February 2013, the theater was let go when Martin decided to return, full circle, to his hometown of Seattle Washington.
Martin Barter continues to teach Sandy’s unadulterated Technique to today’s actors, both in Seattle and Los Angeles.
Also a graduate of UCLA’s two-year professional screenwriting program, Barter has written five original screenplays and had his original play, I’m Still Crying, directed by award-winning writer/ director, Larry Cohen. Martin Barter works as an on-set acting coach, and has worked with top-level talent on a number of feature films, including Selena and Frank McKlusky, C.I
Mr. Barter is currently available for Lectures, Seminars and Workshops.