Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Spotlight On...Robert Murphy

Name: Robert Murphy

Hometown: Lewis, Iowa

Education: Undergrad: University of Iowa (Theatre and Music), Grad: Yale School of Drama (Sound Design)

Favorite Credits: This one, so far...

Why theater?: Because helping to give an audience a great theatrical experience brings a deep emotional satisfaction that nothing else can.

Tell us about Love, Sex and Death in the Amazon: It’s part memoir and part fantasy.  It’s also an effort to engage in conversation with a person with whom I couldn’t.

What inspired you to write Love, Sex and Death in the Amazon?: My partner of eight years was diagnosed with two forms of aggressive leukemia in early 2009.  We had had many difficulties in our relationship, but I came back to help him get through endless rounds of chemo treatments.  In addition to this, his Brazilian mother didn’t speak a word of English and was a remarkably difficult personality.  In addition to this, Ronaldo and his mother devoutly followed an Afrobrazilian religion, Umbanda – he was doing offerings to his deities throughout his chemo treatments, and Umbanda priests were saying departing prayers to him a month after he passed away.  All these factors sparked the impulse to write a story about his mother and I traveling to the Amazon rainforest in an effort to send his spirit on.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: It sounds obvious, but I’m drawn to theatre that makes me feel something.  Because (IMHO), so much theatre in NYC seems more focused on exploring stylistic ideas, or dazzling with cleverness, than sharing an emotionally compelling story.  (I do love theatrical style, as long as a compelling story gets told.)  Having said that, one my of favorite playwrights is Charles Ludlam.  He embraced all kind of craziness in his plays, but was also quite firmly grounded in traditional rules of dramatic structure.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I’m a big fan of Soho Rep, and would love to work with Sarah Benson.  And, of course, Taylor Mac.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: I was recently blown away by a Gob Squad production called Before Your Very Eyes – improvisation with New York teenagers, asking them to have conversation with younger videotaped versions of themselves.  And I adored Mike Bartlett’s play King Charles III, and I’m looking forward to seeing it on Broadway.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Jean Dujardin (oh hell, let’s shoot for the moon shall we), starring in “Please Sir, May I Have a Career?”

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: 1928 premiere of Threepenny Opera.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Really nice French restaurants I can’t afford.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: Self-medicating.

What’s up next?: Catching up with post-production reality – paying bills, etc.  Then I continue on the first draft of the prequel to this play.