Clockwise from top left: Martin as Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Shakespeare in the Arb, 2012; with RC students on Corsica for a Beckett/medieval farce production at the San Martinu Festival, 2013; a ‘Retirement’ ex voto by friends from Puebla, México.

In his own words

“Since brevity is the soul of wit, and tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, I will be brief.”  With forty plus years teaching Drama and making theater in the RC it seems incumbent upon me to follow Polonius’s advice.  So - sincerest thanks to my RC colleagues, both faculty and staff, and the hundreds of students, undergraduate and graduate, whom I have taught and worked with.  With thanks as well to numerous colleagues in other departments - Theater and Drama, English, German - in the University Musical Society, the Rudolf Steiner School, and elsewhere in the community.

Despite some decades of benign neglect by the larger University the Residential College, in funky old East Quad., has been a great place to have spent one’s time, a home-base of unfailing collegiality, creativity, and freedom.  I have been free to teach widely in the world of Drama; to perform and direct, bringing numerous works, old and new, to the stage; to pursue scholarship which I could then feed back into courses;  and to see many generations of students go on to careers in theater and teaching theater, but also in law, journalism, science, religion, social activism.  I can look back on my early years helping keep the Brecht Company afloat, bringing that ever-relevant playwright and his followers to new audiences;  to my experimental work reconstructing various forms of early drama with the Harlotry Players; to dozens of field trips to the Stratford Festival in Ontario; and in this millennium, to my colleague of long-standing, Kate Mendeloff’s Shakespeare in the Arb and the many other performance projects she initiated.

Disoriented by these last three, disconnected semesters of the Covid-era and disheartened by the morass of toxic misinformation, willful ignorance, and aggressive opportunism in our national life, I can still find hope and affirmation in places like the RC.  They are not “ivory towers” but “base camps.”  May they continue to scale the heights.  

Ave atque Vale.  

        ---Martin Walsh

As Abraham for the York Cycle Abraham and Isaac, University of Toronto, 1998

From Residential College Director, Catherine Badgley

Martin Walsh has had a distinguished career in the Residential College as the founder of the RC Drama Program, scholar, actor, and teacher. He received his B.A. from Fordham College, an M.A. from the University of Virginia, and a Ph.D from Cambridge University. He worked at Universität Giessen in Germany from 1974-1977 before joining the Residential College in its early years. He has an extensive list of scholarly publications, including books (co-editor of the English edition of Everyman and Mariken van Nieumeghen/Mary of Nijmegen, a 15th century Dutch play); articles in scholarly journals about Medieval, Renaissance, 19th century, and contemporary theatre. His scholarly work includes a dozen papers about Native American plays, pageants, and cultural activities. He has translated and adapted plays, particularly for the two theatre groups that he founded at the RC. He also published poems and short stories early in his career. As an RC faculty member, he has taught or conducted research in many international venues, including the Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland, Ireland, Croatia, Turkey, and Trinidad.

At the Residential College, Martin was the director of the RC Drama Program from the mid-1980’s until his retirement in 2021. He was also an Adjunct Professor of Theater History in the Theater Department (SMTD). He taught the foundational courses in acting and directing, along with Kate Mendeloff. Martin founded the Brecht Company of Ann Arbor in 1970 and served as its chief dramaturge for its 14-year existence. Those of us fortunate to be on campus during those years were able to see some of the Brecht classics: Fear and Misery in the Third Reich, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Baal, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, and others. Martin was dramaturge for the Performance Network’s production of Threepenny Opera in 2004. Martin also founded the ad hoc Harlotry Players in 1983, which performed its latest production in Corsica in 2014. This group has put on medieval plays, at times in the original language. Martin’s signature courses in the RC Drama Program have included “Shakespeare on the stage,” “Irish drama and film,” and “Theater of Anti-Facism.” He received LSA’s Excellence in Education award in 1994.

Martin also directed and acted in plays in these two theatre groups as well as professional settings over several decades. He had major roles in Shakespeare plays during the summers of Shakespeare in the Arb and served as director or actor in numerous productions of the RC Players. On a personal note, I was thrilled when Martin played the role of Charles Darwin in the play that I wrote (Darwin’s Dreams) and Kate produced in 2009. The part demands memorization of passages from The Origin of Species and a deep understanding of the scientific and social implications of Darwin’s ideas.

Martin’s modest bearing and quiet wit disguise the wide-ranging talents of this remarkable scholar, generous teacher, and founding member of the RC faculty. May your adventures continue at your own pace…!

As Cadmus alongside the blind seer Tiresias played by long-time RC Drama participant Rob Sulewski in the 2019 production of Euripides' The Bacchae at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens Conservatory (Photo by Robby Griswold)

Martin's Biography

Martin W. Walsh, PhD. Cantab., lecturer IV at the Residential College of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts retired from active faculty status on May 31, 2021.

Dr. Walsh received his B.A. (1968) from Fordham University, his M.A. (1969) from the University of Virginia and his PhD. (1974) from Cambridge University. He was a lektor in Anglistik at the Universität Gieꞵen (1974-77) and joined the Residential College (RC) faculty in fall 1977. He was head of the RC’s Drama Concentration from the mid 1980’s until his retirement, serving as an adjunct professor (Theater History) in the Department of Theatre and Drama for several years, as well as teaching in the Florence and Rome summer programs. At the RC, he served as an academic advisor and regular contributor to the First Year Seminar program.

Dr. Walsh has consistently combined practical theater work and published research with his extensive teaching in Drama. His RC courses such as “Shakespeare on the Stage,” “Commedia dell’arte Workshop” and “Irish Drama and Film,” have alternated with specialized courses such as “Post-colonial English Language Drama,” “Theater of Anti-Fascism,” and courses on individual modern playwrights and in conjunction with UMS and Stratford Festival productions. Walsh participated in numerous local performance projects and was a frequent actor and assistant director for “Shakespeare in the Arb.” From 1980-93 he was chief dramaturge and lead actor for the Brecht Company in residence at the RC. In addition to playing many major Brechtian roles, he directed several shows including his original translations of Brecht works. Walsh also headed an early drama group, “The Harlotry Players” which participated in eight of the University of Toronto’s experimental mountings of the English Mystery Cycles. The group performed as well at international venues in Britain, the Netherlands, and Corsica. Walsh has published some 75 articles in early drama and popular culture as well as in modern drama, festival performance, and Native American studies, and is co-editor of the bilingual Everyman and Mary of Nemmegen.