MFA, playwright, actor, and director, whose plays include STEEL: John Henry and the Shaker, winner of two 2002 Ovation Awards, and who directed String of Pearls at Carnegie Hall. Mr. Martell’s work is performed at Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Hollywood Bowl, and he is a regular participant in the “Library Girl” fiction reading series. He is a recipient of the UCLA Extension Outstanding Instructor Award in Creative Writing.
To watch a video of Leon reading from his work at the 2011 Writers’ Program Publication Party, click here.
It takes a lot to trick myself into writing honestly, so over the years I have gathered all the tools I can to help me get into that state of clarity and intimacy with my characters. I use a number of acting techniques to get under the skin of the character, to find the surprises, idiosyncrasies, and drives that make the character three-dimensional. I work from physical impulses because I often find “the body” lacking in writing, even though every character inhabits one as does every reader/audience. In my writing workshop, I teach with in-class writing, then reading aloud, while the feeling of the moment is still with the writer. If the feeling was there and it did not reach the page, you should know that right away. Class response is limited to telling what they heard and what affected them, emphasizing the positive aspects of the writing.
Our Students Say it Best!
“Always engaging, articulate, and helpful. He reached me and my creative process in very new ways for which I am grateful for. He was always interesting and funny while still maintaining the focus the class.” — Writers’ Program Student
Watch a writing tip from Leon: