In the fall of 2018, Kelly Murphy found herself writing a ten-minute play for a College of Communication and the Arts playwriting class. Fast forward to February 2019, Murphy's Shadow of Herself was no longer confined to words on paper; instead, it came alive during a sold-out show at the Manhattan Repertory Theatre in New York City.
Shadow of Herself is a combination of Murphy's interest in psychology and theatre as it follows the therapy session of Emma, a young adult who struggles with self-love manifested in her tricky relationship with her internal, conscience-type personality. The play is an incarnation of two dialogues happening simultaneously: an external conversation with Emma's therapist Jason and Emma's internal discourse with "Herself," a manifestation of Emma's psyche.
"I got my inspiration by listing things I've never seen on stage before, a method Professor Reader taught us about. I had never seen two actors play one character before, and naturally I thought about the concept of the inner mind versus how we externally present ourselves," reflected Murphy, a sophomore Psychology major.
Although the piece was originally created as a final project for a class, she went ahead and submitted her play to three different showcases so she could become familiar with the submission process. Associate Professor Peter Reader, who taught the class, told Murphy that her play was stage worthy and had a great message. He encouraged her "to put it out there and see what happens."
When she received word from the Manhattan Repertory Theatre – a production house that turns plays into stage productions – and learned her play was accepted for the Playwright's Showcase, she couldn't help but celebrate. "It was the realization of a lifelong dream to work on something that would be performed in Manhattan," added Murphy.
In preparing Shadow of Herself for the stage, Murphy called on the help of Theatre students Tess Borsecnik (Emma), Delaney Winslow (Herself), Andrew Cates (Jason) and Elizabeth Mccole (director) to bring her work to life. "Working with everyone was an incredible experience. Each of them are truly talented," said Murphy. "Liz really helped bring all of my intentions to the stage, and Tess and Delaney nailed the challenge of portraying the complex relationship we have with ourselves, especially as women."
Their hard work came together on February 15 and 16, 2019 during a session dedicated to five short play projects. "There are no words to fully describe the pure joy, excitement, fulfillment and pride I felt those two nights," said Murphy. "While I am a psychology major, I fully intend on continuing to write and submit plays for the rest of my life. Psychology gives me an interesting angle to write from, and playwriting is an avenue through which I can express my voice about different topics like the experience of youth and mental illness."
Categories: Arts and Culture