Langley actress in love with the stage

Gemma Martini is in the glass fabrication business by day, but by night the 39-year-old (true age) North Langley resident immerses herself in the world of acting – both for stage and screen.

If Martini had her druthers, however, she’d opt to dabble more in theatre.

“I love being on set and filming movies, but my passion is for the theatre,” she explained to the Langley Advance.

“I feel that the two aren’t even comparable in many ways. Theatre allows me to live the life of the character from start to finish and take the audience on a journey,” added Martini, who is in rehearsals every night this week in anticipation of Friday’s opening of Shadowlands on the Gallery 7 stage in Abbotsford.

Martini is playing the role of Joy Gresham, a spirited poet from America who pursued her dream of meeting and ultimately winning the heart of Oxford professor and famous children’s author C.S. Lewis.

Shadowlands is a biographical play written by William Nicholson, directed by Trinity Western University professor Dr. Lloyd Arnett, and produced by Gallery 7 Theatre – an Abbotsford-based theatre company that often draws on a lot of on- and off-stage talent from Langley.

This is Martini’s first role with Gallery 7, but she doesn’t expect it to be her last.

Langley resident, Gemma Martini is Joy Gresham and Jay Danziger is C.S. Lewis in Gallery 7 Theatre’s production of Shadowlands. – Dianna Lewis photo

“From my experience so far, I hope that I can work with them again in the future. They run their theatre company professionally and are highly invested in producing good quality theatre for their audiences,” she said just three sleeps before the curtain goes up on the play.

“I am nervous in anticipation of presenting Joy as the playwright intended… as the vibrant and passionate woman who C.S. Lewis adored.”

Martini is on the email list for every possible community theatre audition in the Lower Mainland.

“I am always on the lookout for great roles and this is indeed a ‘great’ role,” she said, explaining that when she learned last fall that Gallery 7 was producing Shadowlands, she was immediately “enticed” because it tells the story of one of her favourite childhood authors – C.S. Lewis.

“It gives the audience insight into the man who wrote all those books they loved as children. I have never played a role that was biographical and have really enjoyed researching Joy (my character’s name) and how it is that she came to England to meet and love C.S. Lewis,” Martini elaborated.

“It is an incredible and tragic love story of two complicated and intelligent characters. Who doesn’t love those?”

Asked if it was tough to prepare for this role, Martini admitted it took a little bit of extra effort, but it was well worth it.

“I love every part of the process… the research into the character, the discussions about the script, rehearsing, connecting with the other actors, and most of all, having those “‘yes’ moments when the magic happens,” she said.

Asked about similarities between herself and the character she will be portraying, Martini couldn’t provide a simple answer.

“For starters, Joy is an American Jewish Communist Christian.  I am none of those.

“Joy had a challenging life and struggled with health issues and alienation of her family. I am fortunate to have not experienced those.

“Joy was brilliant and graduated university before most others would have graduated high school. Not me either. 

“Joy knows what she wants and goes after it without worrying about what others think. I am trying to be more like that.

“Joy often offends those around her with her strong opinions. Okay, maybe.

“Joy is passionate about life. Yes!

“In terms of our ‘history,’ you can see that we have very little in common. However, I admire her passion, her strength and her intelligence. She really did decide what she wanted and went after it, understanding that it would be nearly impossible to achieve, but doing it anyway,” Martini explained.

“The story is hard to believe, but true. [Joy] fell in love with C.S. Lewis through reading his books, started writing him letters, and then left her life in America to pursue a relationship with him, knowing that he would not be able to reciprocate her feelings because of his strong Christian beliefs. Over time (many years) and a tragedy, she wins him over.”

In addition to a dose of nerves leading into next week’s opening, Martini said she’s also excited.

“This is the largest and most professional venue that I have ever performed in,” she explained.

The play opens Friday, Jan. 23, and runs Jan. 24, 29, 30, and 31 at 7:30 p.m., with matinees Jan. 24 and 31 at 2 p.m. at the Abbotsford Arts Centre, 2329 Crescent Way. Tickets are available online at or by calling 1-800-665-8828.


Just Posted

Charges upgraded against mother of murdered Langley girl

Kerryann Lewis now faces first- rather than second-degree murder in the death of Aaliyah Rosa.

WATCH: Farm Country Brewing in Langley City expected to open in summer

Farm Country Brewing is currently under construction and is planned to open in summer 2019.

South Langley centre offers seniors an array of activities

Members decide which courses and activities are offered at the Brookswood Seniors Centre.

LETTER: Langley/Surrey shortchanged on transit for Vancouver

Funding to get SkyTrain to Langley City could come from not undergrounding Vancouver’s extension.

LETTER: Area letter writer puts Trump government shutdown in perspective

A Maple Ridge letter writer is critical of Hillary Clinton’s comments about the shutdown.

VIDEO: U.S. Congress to probe whether Trump told lawyer Cohen to lie

At issue is a BuzzFeed News report that about negotiations over a Moscow real estate project

Rookie Demko backstops Canucks to 4-3 win over Sabres

Young Vancouver goalie makes 36 saves to turn away Buffalo

UPDATE: Injured firefighter in stable condition

Kelowna fire crews responded to a blaze at Pope’sGallery of BC Art & Photography on Friday

Book a ride on a driverless shuttle in Surrey or Vancouver

Automated vehicle demos are being offered, as the two cities plan pilot projects with the shuttles

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Arrest made after historic B.C. church hit by arson

The fire at the 150-year-old Murray United Church in Merritt was considered a possible hate crime

Missing man from Crowsnest Pass could be in Lower Mainland

58-year-old Stuart David Duff was last seen on Jan. 6, 2019.

B.C. dangerous offender in court for violating no-contact order, sends letter to victim

Wayne Belleville was shocked to see a letter addressed to him from his shooter, Ronald Teneycke

Man blames his loud car radio, sirens for crash with B.C. ambulance

Tribunal rejects bid to recoup ICBC costs after crash deemed 100-per-cent his fault

Most Read