The Irrepressible Mr. Murray Makes His Third Rail Debut
Chris Murray makes an impression, on stage and off. In person, his energy and enthusiasm are not merely infectious, they're downright nuclear. His performances have the same intensity, as anyone who saw his Drammy award-winning turn in ART's "Take Me out" will testify.
At Third Rail we knew that some day we'd harness this fellow's talent, and our upcoming production of Martin McDonagh's "A Skull in Connemara" provided the perfect opportunity.
In "Skull," Chris plays Mairtin Hanlon, resident hoodlum of Leenane, who is recruited by the town priest to help Mick Dowd (Bruce Burkhartsmeier) in a macabre kind of "housekeeping." We recently got Chris to sit still long enough to ask him about his Third Rail debut.
Third Rail: How have rehearsals for "Skull" been for you so far? Is there any particular challenge to acting Martin McDonagh's writing or to what [director Scott Yarbrough] is asking of you?
Chris: The rehearsal process has been a real delight. McDonagh's work just aches to be read aloud, and the music and rhythm of the language is very apparent and fun to live in.
Scott has helped me get out of my head a lot as an actor, which is really nice, and allowed me to just play in this world. One interesting thing about Scott you might not know, is that while he directs for the first few weeks, he doesn't look at you. He listens to the play. It can be a little jarring for an actor looking for feedback, but often what he hears is more profound than what most directors see.
TR: In what way is Mairtin most different from you? How do you go about making that change for your performance?
Chris: Mairtin is very similar to me in a lot of ways, but I think the primary difference is his personal assurance that he is the smartest person in the room. Especially in a room with people like Mike [O'Connell], Scott, Gretchen [Corbett] and Bruce, I often feel the opposite is true for me. How do I go about making that change? I guess I just imagine all my fellow actors as Paris Hilton.
TR: You're the youngest member of this cast. Are you learning anything from your castmates? Or conversely, what do you think they might be learning from you?
Chris: Working alongside actors like Gretchen, Mike and Bruce is really staggering. Their level of focus and the detail they bring is unmatched. We've all worked with talented actors before, but seeing these three interact with Scott and create something beautiful is really amazing.
I don't know if they learn anything from me, but I do hope they can see the wide eyed optimist inside of them when I am around. Its like being a kid in an incredibly professional candy store. No Skittles in this place, just fine chocolates.
Thanks, Chris, we're glad to have a "kid" like you playing with us!
Third Rail Repertory Theatre's production of Martin McDonagh's "A Skull in Connemara" runs February 6 through March 1 at the World Trade Center Theatre. Call 503-235-1101 to reserve tickets or purchase them online at www.thirdrailrep.org.