Why did I move here, anyway?

With trepidation, Matt Smith moved his family from Seattle to Bainbridge Island. He shares his story in “A Boat to Bainbridge” Friday night at the BPA Playhouse.   - Courtesy of Matt Smith
With trepidation, Matt Smith moved his family from Seattle to Bainbridge Island. He shares his story in “A Boat to Bainbridge” Friday night at the BPA Playhouse.
— image credit: Courtesy of Matt Smith

Humorist Matt Smith explores the quirks of island living this Friday.

Living on Bainbridge Island has broadened Matt Smith’s horizons in unpredictable ways, in unexpected places.

“The best thing about Bainbridge is the dump,” Smith said. “The dump is so easy. Going can be a relaxing, social experience.”

How and why this writer-performer-auctioneer surrendered city life for a slice of the island is the stuff of “My Boat to Bainbridge,” Smith’s humorous examination of this monumental decision and its aftermath.

Smith will perform his one-man show on the island for the first time Friday night at the BPA Playhouse.

The production debuted in February 2005 in Seattle, where it enjoyed a prolonged summer run. As before, the show is directed by Bret Fetzer.

“There are no changes that anyone would notice,” said Smith, who wrote the piece after he and his family moved onto the island. “It’s better because I’m older and wiser. A lot of guys really relate. Anyone who moved here will.”

After three and a half years, Smith has found his island comfort zone.

“I like Bainbridge. All the things that I thought would be a real drag, most of them aren’t,” he said.

Topping that list is riding the ferry to and from Seattle, where Smith continues to teach improvisation classes, as he has for about 20 years, and conduct corporate training sessions.

The inconvenience of commuting by ferry, Smith says, disappears once he’s on it. To pass the time, he’s studying Japanese.

Missing a ferry, however, is tiresome. As he remarked to his wife after leaving a party too late to catch an 11:15 p.m. sailing, “By the time we get home, we could have driven to a hotel in Vancouver.”

Smith is starting to feel like he has a social life on Bainbridge. He’s gradually meeting people, taking a yoga class and even greeting folks he sees on the ferry.

“It’s like being on a campus,” he said.

Straddling two cities hasn’t slowed Smith down. And he was surprised to find that his relationship to Seattle, his hometown, actually improved.

“I treat Seattle like a high school kid. I don’t have a car. You see more and catch more from the bus,” he said. “You have a much more tactile view of downtown, Capitol Hill and Queen Anne.”

Smith knows “where the internet cafes are, where the bathrooms are and where the nice hotel lobbies are.”

With his lifestyle, he said, “Sometimes I have an appointment to meet somebody... and the meeting takes 10 minutes. You just have to offer it up.”

He has learned to bunch his appointments to make the most of his Seattle time.

In addition to writing monologues, Smith is a popular fund-raising auctioneer and an actor. All these pursuits, along with the corporate training, are tied to improv.

“I do a lot of stuff with storytelling as a leadership tool at leadership conferences,” Smith said. “I teach basic story-telling style. People respond to and connect to a story emotionally. I teach them how to speak in the form of single stories. They need some simple training in how to tell a story instead of memo writing.”

No one can resist their own story, Smith said.

“The hard part is the reflection required to put your thoughts in order. I give them a method of organizing their thoughts so they can articulate better what they feel and what they want.”

Students in his improv classes for actors and writers recommended Smith for the corporate work. At the time, he was acting and writing monologues. He ultimately quit the idea of being a film actor, which was “getting in the way.”

“I was making an adult living,” he said.

Smith’s screen credits include the films “Spiderman” and “Sleepless in Seattle,” the Almost Live television show, Whiteface and The Naked Proof. He got back in the acting saddle when tempting offers came his way.

Smith recently spent two weeks in India working on the film “Outsourced” because he liked the director and the script. He’ll join the cast of “Superman 3” in New York in May.

Acting pushes auctioneering jobs off Smith’s agenda, which he regrets.

“I went to auction school and I love it,” he said. “I get to connect with all kinds of people in great organizations and schools who care deeply about their cause. And they trust you for the two most important hours of this six-month ordeal. It feels like good work.”

There are more auctions in the Seattle area per capita than anywhere else in the country, he added.

“It’s not the most efficient way to raise money unless your goal is to build community, get people together,” he said.


Bainbridge bound

Matt Smith explains why he retreated to island life in his humorous monologue “My Boat to Bainbridge” at 7:30 p.m. April 21 at the BPA Playhouse. The production is suitable for “PG” audiences.

Tickets – $15 per person – are available at the BPA box office or by calling 842-8569. See for more information. For more about Smith see BPA’s box office is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and one hour prior to the performance.

The performance is sponsored by the Bainbridge Island Review.

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