Friday, August 7, 2015

Spotlight On...Mark Murray

Name: Mark Murray

Hometown: Austin, TX

Education: Cornish College of the Arts: BFA in Acting with an emphasis in Original Works

Favorite Credits: Cathy in Caryl Churchill’s Cloud 9 and Renfield in Hamilton Dean’s adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Both of these roles were incredibly fun to play and allowed me to be characters that stretched my ability and imagination. Some of my favorite theatrical memories were Cathy’s costume fittings, when they were attempting to make me look like a 4-year-old girl. Needless to say, I did not make it easy for them.

Why theater?: I was 8 and on my first trip to New York City with my family. From my first moment there I loved it. I was constantly 20 steps ahead of my family until eventually I took a wrong turn into the subway and realized they were nowhere to be found.  After a close call, a sufficient freak out by my parents, and a rescue from my brother, we were reunited. If my brother hadn’t found me I could’ve been lost forever, destined to a life of destitution. Even worse, I would’ve missed my first Broadway show, Beauty and the Beast. Start to finish, I was enamored. I knew I wanted to do theatre.

Tell us about CODA (Children of Deaf Adults): CODA is a one-man show about growing up with Deaf parents. Through vignettes, you get a taste of the different perspectives and experiences of Deaf Culture through the eyes of a hearing child. In many ways being Deaf is to be a foreigner within your own country. At its core the show is about these foreigners and their son. Our parents’ generation wrote of the foreigners’ experience and now we write about being their sons and daughters.

What inspired you to write CODA (Children of Deaf Adults)?: In my Sophomore year of college I found out about Cornish College’s Original Works program, which begins your Junior year. This program allowed me to take writing and directing classes on top of my acting classes. Part of the requirement for the audition was to write and direct a 10 minute play. It was then that I got the idea to write about my experiences growing up. The show I came up with involved a bunch of characters who were all fluent in Sign Language. Eventually, I realized the script was horrible plus, I had no idea where I was going to find so many actors who knew Sign Language. I scrapped it, wrote something else, and made it into the program with that. I didn’t come back to this idea until late my Junior year when our writing class was assigned to develop a solo show. It dawned on me that this was the perfect chance to write about my life. It solved the main issue of finding actors who knew Sign Language and breathed life into my script. That is how this whole journey started. Since then, I have continue to write and make edits to the show while performing in Vancouver (BC), Seattle, Austin, Cincinnati, and now New York City.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I love being a part of and watching new work. There is something invigorating about the risks you have to take to produce art that has never been seen before, something you aren’t sure will succeed or fall flat on its face. I am inspired by work that seeks to represent communities, ideas, and ideals that are not commonly represented in the current theatrical landscape. This is the biggest reason I am drawn to fringe festivals and the participating artists. I enjoy the opportunity to support their work and contributions to the ever evolving theatre scene. I believe it is a responsibility all emerging and/or developing artists share.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: If I could work with anyone, it would have to be Gene Wilder. He is one of my idols as an actor and performer. The authenticity he brings to his characters is unmatched in comedy.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: I’m recommending Wrought Atlas Theatre Ensemble’s show Dungeon that was in the Cincinnati International Fringe Festival with me in May of this year. It is an exciting and unique show that innovates with shadow-play and puppetry.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Anton Yelchin in “Turn Around If You Love Me”

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: I’d hop in my Delorean and see a Shakespeare play in the original setting to get the true experience of any of those masterpieces. I want to see them produced as the living pieces of theatre and not just as the precious, sacred things they are treated as now.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: I try not to feel guilty about the things I enjoy. Sometimes people think it is strange that I love to take myself out to a solitary breakfast. A delectable plate of food, a Bloody Mary, fresh air, and a notepad is the perfect start to a day.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: This is such a hard question to answer because I can barely remember a time when I haven't wanted to make theatre my career. If I absolutely could not be working in theater, I would probably become an American Sign Language Interpreter and focus on interpreting for performance. There is such a void of theatre accessible to the Deaf right now which is a shame, since it is such a visual art form.

What’s up next?: Next, I am taking CODA (Children of Deaf Adults) to the Chicago International Fringe Festival.

For more on Mark, visit