Anya Martin is a playwright, director, producer and arts leader.

Martin is the Founding Artistic and Producing Director, and lead writer and director for Hiawatha Project, an original theatre-making company in Pittsburgh. Hiawatha Project creates original performances exploring specific social questions through myth, free association, and movement.   

As a playwright and director for Hiawatha Project, Martin’s Camino produced in 2011, was a poetic exploration of migration, and the profitable business of private immigrant detention centers in the U.S.  Camino was praised as “smart, sharp and witty, not to mention spoken in three languages” (City Paper) with “scenes of imagination and poetic insight.” (Pittsburgh Post Gazette) With the company’s second major work JH: Mechanics of a Legend, Martin melded the language of mechanics, century old ballads and primary historical records to explore the legend of John Henry “where properties of physics become harrowing metaphors for human power relationships.” (City Paper) Praised as a “fever dream of history” that will “will alternately rouse you and break your heart,” JH: Mechanics of a Legend was developed in 2014 as a part of the New Hazlett Theater’s competitive CSA Performance Series, and was produced in 2017 at the August Wilson Center after winning a prestigious $50,000 programming grant. 

In 2019, she wrote and directed, My Traveling Song an original play with music especially made for children ages 1-5, the young at heart, and the grown-ups who love them. With live music, tactile play and rich imagery, My Traveling Song uplifts relationships between children and their caregivers.  In the sold-out premiere run of My Traveling Song “both young children and their adult minders were captivated by the show’s many moments of interactivity” and the show was praised as “gentle, comforting, and playful.” (Pittsburgh Tatler)

Buoyant Sea, conceived and written by Martin, is a new symbiotic performance experience for young children and the grown ups who love them, and will be co-presented with Hiawatha Project and The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust in May 2023 as a part of the International Children’s Theater Festival. In Buoyant Sea babies and young children sing and splash together along with caregivers in a “water table play” about the joy of togetherness through all states of being.

As a part of the Theater Communications Group (TCG) national conference in June of 2022, Hiawatha presented a new work in development, In Our Time/ Stories from the Front Lines of the Medical Fields, at the Pierce Studio Theatre in partnership with The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.  Inspired by interviews with female critical care physicians on the frontlines of the COVID pandemic, and Ernest Hemingway’s groundbreaking World War I novel set against the backdrop of a pandemic nearly 100 years earlier, In Our Time/Stories from the Front Lines of the Medical Fields weaves Hemingway’s In Our Time  with first hand accounts of women ICU doctors to create a moving, poetic account of 2 pandemic eras echoing with parallel themes of loss, grief and alienation. Featured in Broadway World, development work continues on this new play. 

Plays written and produced outside of her work with Hiawatha Project include her plays Anthropological Data: with actual human footage! featured in Carnegie Mellon University’s International Festival in 2007, and Teatro Latino de Pittsburgh commissioned and produced as a part of Pittsburgh 250 celebrations in 2008.  Her one woman show, Muslims, Mennonites, and Mommies was presented at the Mattress Factory as a part of ArtUp’s acclaimed Sites of Passage in 2012.

In 2018 her play Helen at the Gym was a winner in RedBull Theater’s Annual Short Play Festival in NYC, and was presented alongside works by theatre legends Tina Howe and Doug Wright. You can purchase her play in the Red Bull Shorts Volume 4 published by Stage Rights

In 2021 Martin won the Silver Ear in the international Hear Me Out Monologue Competition for her work, Motherland Will Teach You That. With over 400 submissions worldwide, 13 writers were chosen as finalists for the Hear Me Out New American Monologue Competition. The finalists’ pieces were performed live (via Zoom) in front of an audience of nearly 300 people during the Labor Day Festival on Sept 6, 2021. Festival judges Gretchen Cryer, Gary Garrison, Christine Toy Johnson, Craig Lucas, Austin Pendleton, and Charlayne Woodard.

Martin’s work has been seen in New York at the Lucille Lortel Theater, Vineyard Theatre, West End Theatre, Epiphany Theater Company, and International Wow; and regionally with Arena Stage and the Living Stage in D.C; and with with City Theatre Company, Bricolage Production Company, The New Hazlett Theater, ArtUp, The Mattress Factory, and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust in Pittsburgh.

Martin taught for 7 years as an Adjunct Professor in directing at Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama where she also received her BFA in Directing, graduating with University and College Honors. She earned her MFA in Theater from Sarah Lawrence College with a focus on devised and experimental works. She also served as the Head of Theatre at Lancaster Country Day School and was an adjunct professor at SUNY Westchester College.  She continues to teach as  a guest lecturer, workshop leader and private coach. 

Under her leadership as Artistic and Producing Director for Hiawatha Project, the company has received funding awards from AER Capacity Building, The August Wilson Center Legacy Fund, August Wilson Center Programing, Brooks Foundation, Heinz Small Arts Initiative, Opportunity Fund, Spout Fund, PA Council of the Arts, The Pittsburgh Foundation, and PNC Charities. 

Martin is a 2011 Flight School Fellow with Creative Capital/Pittsburgh Filmmakers, and a Pittsburgh Magazine “40 Under 40” honoree for 2013. She was an artist in residence in 2013 for the New Hazlett Theater, and a Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Award nominee for Emerging Artist in 2016.  She is a member of The New Play Exchange, The Playwrights’ Center, and The Dramatists Guild.

Martin grew up in a Mennonite family in rural PA, and now lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and two children.

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