"Martha Treads the Boards"
Season 01, Episode 34a
Martha Treads the Boards
Production code: 0134a
Original Airdate: April 9, 2009
Vocabulary Words: tradition, custom, culture, generation, annual, family, different, community, theater, marry
"T.D. and the Light Bulb of Doom"
"Martha's Pack"
Martha Treads the Boards is the 34th episode of Martha Speaks.  It premiered on April 9, 2009 as part of season 1.


Helen's mom and dad are starring in the community theater production, and Helen's the stage manager. Even Martha gets a part... as a bull. When the big night finally comes, Mom and Dad get trapped in their dressing room. The play must go on, but now the bull is the bullfighter and the bullfighter is... her sister? What will they do for an encore?

Recap Edit

It begins with Daniel Lorraine making breakfast and announcing he's getting married to the loveliest girl in the world. Martha is confused as he's already married. Danny explains that he's not really getting married again, he's just practicing his lines. Mariella, who's making some coffee, explains there will be a community play, and Helen, who's sitting at the table eating cereal with Jake, explains that her parents are playing the main characters and asks Martha to guess who the stage director is. Martha, impressed, guesses Helen. Mariella explains that the play's about two people who are in love but from different worlds. She then pretends to swoon and Danny catches her and practises his line about how can they be happy together when their families have different traditions. Martha asks what traditions are and Danny explains what traditions are. Mariella (who's gotten up and is now acting normally) explains that Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hannukah are traditions. Daniel then announces that their family has its own traditions like having dinner with Grandma Lucille and Grandpa Bernie on Sundays and having an annual camping trip. Helen points out that annual means every year and they only went camping once. Daniel promises they'll go camping again this year.

At the theatre, Daniel rehearses his line about being a traditional man, wearing his costume's hat. Mr Boxwood, who's sitting on a chair facing the stage, tells Daniel to put more enthusiasm onto his line as in the scene he and Mariella are rehearsing, Hector (Daniel's character) is telling his girlfriend that he's a bullighter and will never give that up and it's part of his culture. He (Mr Boxwood) then paces in front of them, defining the word "culture". He states that bullfighting is part of Spanish culture and baseball is part of American culture. Martha, who's on another chair next to Helen, adds that playing fetch is part of dog culture. Mr Boxwood agrees and then decides that he's had a "stroke of genius" and wants to talk to his newest star. Martha asks who that is and wonders if she's in the play.

Mrs Boxwood then shows Daniel and Mariella their dressing room behind the set, noting the doorknob is sticky and you need to flip your wrist to open it.

Martha is dressed up as a bull. She's a bit confused by this but Mrs Boxwood says that the bull is the best part because of the costume. Martha is not satisfied because she's the only talking dog in town and has no lines. Mr Boxwood says that anyone could say a few lines but she must convince the audience that she is the bull. He then kneels on the floor and asks her to say "I am the bull". Martha says it and then shouts it.

Martha, still in her bull outfit, runs onto the stage and shouts "I am the bull!". Helen tells Martha that the scene that's taking place now is the dinner scene and that Martha doesn't come on until the bullfighting scene. Mr Boxwood appreciates Martha's enthusiasm but notes that Martha is not supposed to say it out loud, just think it. She leaves and he resets the scene. Mrs Boxwood, who's playing Hector's girlfriend's mother, asks Daniel, who's playing Hector, how he likes his eggplant. Daniel as Hector replies that it's tasty and asks where she got the recipe. Mrs Parkington, in-character, replies that it's a family secret passed on through the generations. Martha asks what a generation is from backstage and Helen cites that a generation is the people in the family who are about the same age and that she and Jake are one generation, then their parents, then their grandparents and so on. Daniel as Hector asks if the main dish will be chicken. Mrs Boxwood as her character says that the eggplant is the main dish and that her family have been vegetarians for generations. Mr Parkington, as Hector's girlfriend's father, asks Daniel as Hector what his job is. Mr Boxwood asks Mr Parkington (addressing him as "Lester") that they need more tension as Hector is a bullfighter and "Maria"'s family are animal lovers and vegetarians and therefore Hector and Maria won't get married. Martha is shocked by the idea of vegetarianism and Helen is shocked at the idea of the characters not getting married. Daniel points out that Helen knows all the lines as she's the stage manager but Helen says she thought there was a scene missing as the characters Hector and Maria have to get married as it's a love story and love stories usually end in a marriage. Mr Boxwood, however, feels the play is a masterpiece and shouldn't be changed.

That evening, Daniel and Mariella are in their costumes and Mariella is trying to teach Danny how to say "traditional" in Spanish but he puts the emphasis on the wrong syllable. Mr Boxwood then tells the actors and actresses to break a leg, which confuses Martha. Mrs Boxwood says that "break a leg" means good luck and it's an old theatre custom to say that. Martha thinks a custom is like a costume and Daniel explains that a costume is something you wear and a custom is a long-standing tradition. Mrs Boxwood says it's customary for people to say "break a leg" instead of "good luck" as they believe saying "good luck" is bad luck. Martha, who doesn't really know the difference between saying and quoting, points out that Mrs Boxwood just said "good luck" twice.

On the stage, Mariella as Maria points out that Daniel as Hector is standing like a dancer. In the next scene, Daniel as Hector dances and Martha says she is the bull and then dashes onto the stage. Ronald, who's in the audience with Alice, the Kennellys, the Oatleys, Grandpa Bernie and Grandma Lucille, asks why the dog has paper cones on her head. Martha says she's the bull and the play continues. Mariella as Maria tells Daniel as Hector to cease fighting the "helpless" bull but Daniel/Hector says he's a traditional man. The auidence applauds, except Ronald who finds the play weird.

Daniel and Mariella change their clothes for the next scene but the Daniel has forgotten how to open the door. Mr Parkington, playing Maria's father, calls for Maria while Helen tries to fetch her mother but the doorknob falls off. Ronald says the scene is weird as nothing is happening. Daniel decides to climb out the window.

Mrs Boxwood and Mr Parkington, who are playing Maria's parents, chat about the weather while Helen retrieves the doorknob but Mr Parkington thinks she's coming to play Maria.

Outside, the security guards are surprised to see Daniel on the side of the building with a cape on. ("He must think he's a superhero," one of them says). Daniel confuses them even more by stating he has to save a woman who's trapped inside.

On the stage, Helen has taken over playing Maria and telling her parents (not her real parents) not to judge Hector before they meet him. There's a knock at the door and Mr Parkington answers. It's Martha, who's decided to play Hector. The other actresses and actor are surprised by this but decide to play along. And although only Ronald is vocal about it ("Hey, I thought the dog was the bull. Now she's the bullfighter?"), the whole audience (except T.D. who seems to just accept it) seems a bit confused.

Daniel climbs a ladder onto the roof, telling the security guards that he's in a hurry and will explain later. The guards, however, keep chasing him.

In the middle of Mrs Boxwood's character explaining that her family are vegetarian, Daniel runs past the stage, followed by the security guards. The other people explain that away as Daniel being a phoney Hector and Officer Bradshaw (one of the guards) being a cop after the phoney Hector. Daniel reaches the dressing room but can't find the doorknob and sneaks back onstage with a shawl wrapped around him. Daniel explains that in his shawl he's playing Maria's sister and Helen passes him the doorknob, which confuses Ronald. Daniel sees that there's a security guard on either side, so he jumps through the set, takes his shawl off and climbs up the set. He grabs a rope and tries to swing on it to reach the dressing room, just as Helen as Maria is telling her parents (again not her real parents) that she must accept Hector's culture. Mrs Boxwood as Maria's mother says that she'd rather have the house come down around her ears than let Hector marry into the family. Just then, Daniel crashes into the set and it falls down. The audience bursts out laughing. Mariella arrives onstage, apologising and looking shocked that the set is broken. Mrs Boxwood explains away this unusual occurrence by saying that Helen's character was actually Maria's sister who they thought was Maria and that Mariella is Maria who's showed up late after her sister was looking for her and that Daniel is Hector but they thought Martha was Hector but now they realise that she's actually the bull. This explanation doesn't really make sense (mixing up your children and mistaking a bull for a human) but it will have to do. Martha then does a speech while Helen strokes her: It's true, I am the bull. I may just be a simple animal but even I can see that Hector and Maria love each other and I don't think that tradition or customs or anything else should stand in their way. Also, I don't think you should fight me. Daniel as Hector says that "the bull is right-if tradition says I can't marry Maria, then to heck with tradition!". Helen as Maria's sister cheers and then Maria and Hector (played by Mariella and Daniel) hug, which chokes up one of the security guards. Mr Parkington as Maria's father says that "It's true, darling, we all have the right to change, even if we are...". Daniel then says "A man," to which Mariella says "A woman" and Martha says "A bull of tradition". The play then ends, which everyone enjoys. Mr Boxwood asks Martha if she'd like to be in the next play and she says yes, but only if she can speak.



tradition, custom, culture, generation, annual, family, different, community, theater, marry, costume

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