Meet the Playwright: Mandy Murphy
From A to Double D opens in six days! Before you see the show, get to know the team on the Moxie blog! Last time, we talked to our director, Margaret Lee. This time, meet Mandy Murphy, our brilliant playwright!
Mandy Murphy is a New York based playwright & actress. She hails from the great state of Texas and holds a BFA in Acting from Texas State University. Some writing credits include VALER, From A to Double D, Cutter & Prairie Fire. With her work, Mandy strives to remind us of the similarities between our American big cities and our small towns. Keep up with her at www.mandymurphyplaywright.com.
Keep reading for our Q&A with Mandy!
Q: Why is From A to Double D important right now?
A: I think this play has the potential to do a lot of good in an engaging, artistic way. Theater should be for everyone. That being said there are people out there who feel that theater is too lofty or too sad or frankly, too boring for them. Do I think this is a fair explanation for not going to the theater? No. But I do see their point.
I want theater to draw people in with an experience. With moments where they can laugh and be present and let their wall come down so that maybe they will hear or feel the bigger issues. In this play, the audience walks in to an auction. Maybe they’re excited about it, maybe they’re dreading the “audience interaction” or maybe they’re completely caught off guard but with the freedom that the actors playing Don and Devon have, they can find a place for all of those people to let loose. Once that happens, they will hopefully be able to take in more of Devon’s story as the play unfolds. Therefor, causing a theatrical experience for everyone. Not just your usual theatergoers.
This play also serves as a call to remember your own health. We are living in a time where cancer doesn’t have to be a death sentence and that is incredible but people either think they’re invincible, are too bust to remember their health or sadly, ignore it because of how much in may cost them financially. There are many studies about the causes of breast cancer and what we can do to combat the ever growing number of cases that start in young people as early as their 20s but not many people take it seriously until it’s too late. Hopefully this play can remind people of the possibilities of taking your health for granted.
And lastly, this show brings worlds together in a subtle way. With all of my work, I try to find subtle ways of bringing the American small town and big city together in common experiences as well as sharing unique parts of both so that people can spend time with someone a little different than them and not judge them. Devon’s world is very modern and millennial. Don’s world is very small town and simple. But these two work together despite their differences to create something even if the audience doesn’t understand why. My hope is that after seeing this play someone from the big city may meet someone with a thick southern accent and Stetson or someone from the small town may come across a millennial with modern issues and that either of their first reactions won’t be a negative quick judgment. At the end of the day we are just people, doing out best in a country that keeps trying to put us at odds.
Q: What drives you to work in the theatre?
A: I want to bring people back together in this time when our country, politicians, social media and so much more and trying to keep us apart. We’re never going to be exactly the same or think exactly the same way and that’s okay but I have met people from big cities and small towns who would disagree with that. They love America but are ignoring one of its most fundamental pillars. We live in a time where you can live your whole life and not have face-to-face interaction with someone who thinks differently from you and yet read about their differences 100 times a day on your phone. It breeds hatred and ignorance. It creates hard walls around soft hearts. It concentrates only on the differences and not on the similarities.
Theater has the potential to crack through these walls and to cause people to think and feel; to be present. And that is the time when you share stories. That is the time when you show someone another person or experience not just like them but similar and maybe they’ll listen. I want to create fun, theatrical experiences that draw people in and then teach them something. Even if they couldn’t articulate exactly what it was. I want to chip away at those hard walls, little by little. That’s my purpose. That’s what drives me to work in theater. That’s how I can try and make the world a better place.
Q: Who is a woman+ artist that you admire, and why?
A: Sara Bareilles. Not only is this woman a brilliant artist with something to say and a gift for how to say it. She also creates communities to do good with her work. Waitress was a movie I grew up loving because it reminded me of home and showed me a woman who could exist in a small place and still be happy and strong. When I heard that she was creating a musical out of it, I was shocked. I was so excited to see how it would do. And you know how that worked out. She made this small town story, accessible to everyone with her gifts. She opened hearts with music and writing but that is still a small town story. People leave that theater having rooted for someone different than them. Seeing themselves in someone that they may have passed on the street and judged before. And on top of that, she did concerts and talkbacks and all kinds of things for the community after the shows. She created a place for art and then took it even further to extend the feeling you get in the theater past “curtain rise & curtain fall”. She used her Broadway platform to do a lot of good. I want to be able to do that.
Don't miss Mandy's beautiful writing in From A to Double D on January 23-February 2 at the IRT Theater! Got your tickets?