Marcella Murray

Undergraduate Discipline

Theatre

A New York-based theatre artist from Augusta, Georgia, Murray is a playwright, performer, collaborator, and puppeteer. Her work is heavily inspired by the observed ways in which people tend to segregate and reconnect. Her work tends to focus on themes of identity within a community and (hopefully) forward momentum in the face of trauma.  Performances include The Slow Room, a piece directed by Annie Dorsen at Performance Space New York; a workshop of Ocean Filibuster, which was co-created by the team Pearl D’Amour (Lisa D’Amour and Katie Pearl) with composer Sxip Shirey at Abrons Arts Center; the work-in-progress, I Don’t Want to Interrupt You Guys, created in collaboration with Leonie Bell and Hyung Seok Jeon during RAP at Mabou Mines; New Mony, created by Maria Camia at Dixon Place; and Shoot Don’t Talk at St. Ann’s Warehouse/Puppet Lab, created by Andrew Murdock.  Along with David Neumann, Murray recently co-created Distances Smaller Than This Are Not Confirmed (Obie Special Citation for Creation and Performance), which opened at Abrons Arts Center in January 2020. Murray is part of an artist collective called The Midwives. SLC, 2022–

Undergraduate Courses 2023-2024

Theatre

Actor’s Workshop

Open, Component—Year

In this class, students will begin developing their own artistic practice for performance—supported by workshops on major acting methods such as Brecht, Stanislavski, and Hagen, as well as workshops on physical theatre and performance in the context of devised work. Through learning the historical and artistic context of different techniques, students will be encouraged to determine which practices are useful to them in their own work. These include vocal and physical warmups, relaxation, concentration, sensory awareness, listening, communication, and collaboration. Students will complete presentations that will spring from these workshops, as well as monologues and scene study. Students will work toward an awareness of their own process so that they might be confident in their ability to develop characters outside of the context of a classroom. Students will be asked to honestly evaluate their own work, along with feedback from the professor. This class is intended for first- and second-year Theatre Thirds, as well as others who have not taken many (or any) acting courses.

Faculty

In Gratitude for the Dream: Theatre and Performance in African Diasporas

Open, Component—Year

In this lecture, we will focus on theatre and performance in the African diasporas. This class will discuss some of the different experiences of what it means to be of an African diaspora and to create for performance. How do you express yourself when, structurally, your environment is inhospitable to such a self? We understand that the most commonly expressed histories tend to favor Western perspectives. How, then, do we understand and trust what we learn of the history of Black performance? How do we understand and trust what we hear/read about contemporary Black theatre and performance? What IS theatre, and how does that word relate to non-Western traditions of performance? This class is interested in the connection between ritual and performance, mythology and truth, house and home; it holds space for oral traditions and modes of performance not necessarily called theatre while also maintaining a weekly practice of reading and discussing published plays, theory, and criticism.

Faculty

Graduate Courses 2023-2024

MFA Theatre

Actor’s Workshop

Component—Year

In this class, students will begin developing their own artistic practice for performance—supported by workshops on major acting methods such as Brecht, Stanislavski, and Hagen, as well as workshops on physical theatre and performance in the context of devised work. Through learning the historical and artistic context of different techniques, students will be encouraged to determine which practices are useful to them in their own work. These include vocal and physical warmups, relaxation, concentration, sensory awareness, listening, communication, and collaboration. Students will complete presentations that will spring from these workshops, as well as monologues and scene study. Students will work toward an awareness of their own process so that they might be confident in their ability to develop characters outside of the context of a classroom. Students will be asked to honestly evaluate their own work, along with feedback from the professor. This class is intended for first- and second-year Theatre Thirds, as well as others who have not taken many (or any) acting courses.

Faculty

In Gratitude for the Dream: Theatre and Performance in African Diasporas

Component—Year

In this lecture, we will focus on theatre and performance in the African diasporas. This class will discuss some of the different experiences of what it means to be of an African diaspora and to create for performance. How do you express yourself when, structurally, your environment is inhospitable to such a self? We understand that the most commonly expressed histories tend to favor Western perspectives. How, then, do we understand and trust what we learn of the history of Black performance? How do we understand and trust what we hear/read about contemporary Black theatre and performance? What IS theatre, and how does that word relate to non-Western traditions of performance? This class is interested in the connection between ritual and performance, mythology and truth, house and home; it holds space for oral traditions and modes of performance not necessarily called theatre while also maintaining a weekly practice of reading and discussing published plays, theory, and criticism.

Faculty

Previous Courses

Theatre

Actor’s Workshop: Creative Practices

Open, Component—Year

In this theory and praxis class, students will learn the sociohistorical context of major acting methods—such as Brecht, Meyerhold, Stanislavski, Stella Adler, and Hagen—and then participate in workshops in each of those methods. Through a series of exercises and a variety of acting techniques, students will explore the essential elements of acting, creative expression, and collaboration in the theatre. The exercises will include vocal and physical warmups, relaxation, concentration, sensory awareness, listening, communication, teamwork, and spontaneity. Participants will learn a variety of ways to create a character and to express one’s emotion through the voice, body, and imagination. Skills will be developed to create as an ensemble and to work in relationship to people, objects, and places. Ultimately, through in-class scene presentations, acting students will work to convey vital stories, ideas, emotions, and provocative questions that reflect or challenge humanity. Some playwrights from whose work we may work include: Sara Ruhl, Theresa Rebeck, Maria Irene Fornes, Suzan-Lori Parks, Jean-Paul Sartre, Eugene Ionesco, Young Jean Lee, Jocelyn Bioh, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Tori Sampson, Charlie Evon Simpson, Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde, Jean Genet, Lynn Nottage, Katori Hall, Athol Fugard, John Kani, Jocelyn Bioh, and Jackie Sibblies Drury.

Faculty

Home as a Metaphor for Survival: Theatre in the African Diaspora

Open, Component—Year

It is a sanctum of discovery—enabling the actor to explore non-Western movement—centering energy, concentration, the voice, and the“mythos” of a character to discover one’s own truth in relation to the text, both contemporary and the classics. Both traditional and alternative approaches to acting techniques are applied. Fall semester concentrates on roles: Hamlet, Leontes, Caliban, Othello, Lear, Macbeth, Richard III, Hecuba, Medea, Antigone, Lady Anne, Tamara, Portia, Lady Macbeth; spring semester, to scene study from works by Chekhov, Ibsen, Arrabal, Beckett, Ionesco, Sarah Kane, Amira Baraka, Edward Albee, and Jean Genet. Required reading: The Art of Acting by Stella Adler.

Faculty

Shosholoza: Working to Make Way for Each Other

Open, Component—Year

Shosholoza is a Southern African anthem of unity. Historically, migrant mineworkers in Johannesburg sang the song to keep their spirits up and to maintain a working rhythm to make progress in their work. Shosholoza as a cultural signifier points to the idea of a collaborative process. Shosholoza is sung in call and response and, any time it’s sung, involves and implicates whoever is in the room. This class is about learning to be caring collaborators who give and take space in creative processes. Students will be assigned tasks designed to foster generosity in the workspace while developing, performing, and designing projects in groups throughout the year.

Faculty