News & Articles
2010-2011, Volume 5
FIVE MINUTE WITH… Ensemble Member Sally Murphy.
You’ve played Ivy Weston in August: Osage County in Chicago, on Broadway, in London, and most recently in Sydney. What are some highlights of getting to live with one role for such a long run?
Sally Murphy: A monumental highlight was the opportunity to travel the world! We started in New York, which was kick-ass great, followed by a three month run at London's National Theatre, total dream come true time for us, and also allowed for a quick trip to Paris for Rondi Reed and me. And, this past September, we finished a two month run in Sydney, Australia which was really amazing and meaningful, a great way to say goodbye to our dear play. Amy Morton, Mariann Mayberry and I spent our last week at the Great Barrier Reef and I'm happy to say that we ended our August odyssey scuba diving at the bottom of the Coral Sea with maori wrasse, sea turtles and barracudas. A perfect ending to the whole shebang.
After your experience in the ensemble of August: Osage County, what do you anticipate will be challenging or exciting about doing a play with a two-person cast?
SM: Say goodbye to 40 minute offstage breaks.
As an ensemble member, Steppenwolf is an artistic home for you – and you’ve also had great success in musical theater. How is your performance in musical theater informed by your work at Steppenwolf? What do you bring back to Steppenwolf from the musical stage?
SM: I once heard Barbara Cook say in a master class, "Who cares if you have a beautiful voice? There are a million beautiful voices. It's what you express with your voice that matters." When I approach a musical I look at how the songs reveal the character and tell the story. And conversely, I can hear the music of a play. However, one day when we were rehearsing a particularly hard August scene between Deanna, Rondi and me, a scene that moved at a brisk pace and had us talking non-stop, I made the grave error of comparing the script to a musical score, and was MOCKED MERCILOUSLY by Tracy Letts for two years! "Sal, it's kind of like a musical score, right?" That was my last musical simile.
You’re based in New York now. What are your favorite hangouts when you’re back in Chicago?
SM: My favorite place is our theatre! Being there makes me so happy, hanging with fellow ensemble members and our extraordinary staff. It's an amazing, amazing environment that I cherish. Number two: Wrigley Field. Nothing tops walking up the ramp and seeing that first glimpse of green. And number three: Twin Anchors. My mom and dad used to take me there. Rib heaven!
Can you name your favorite past production at Steppenwolf?
SM: The play closest to my heart is The Common Pursuit by Simon Gray, directed by Rondi Reed, with Alan Wilder, Rick Snyder, Jim True and Tim Hopper. For Jim, Tim and me it was our first Steppenwolf show. I don't have words for how much this play, this cast, affected me—certainly a life shift moment for me—where I caught a glimpse of what was possible.
Is there a role you haven’t had a chance yet to play, but would like to?
SM: I'm not big on that. At the moment I'm really enjoying doing new work, creating new roles in new plays. It's thrilling and scary and exciting.