Wednesday 21 March 2018

What actress Kate Murray learned from her father Colm

Actress Kate Murray talks nerves, meeting her hero and the loss of her father, RTE legend Colm Murray, with Sophie White

TAKING LIFE AS IT COMES: Kate Murray stars in The Pillowman, from March 2-14 at Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre (Phone: 0818 719388, Photo: Gerry Mooney
TAKING LIFE AS IT COMES: Kate Murray stars in The Pillowman, from March 2-14 at Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre (Phone: 0818 719388, Photo: Gerry Mooney

Sophie White

Kate Murray has such poise and composure that it is hard to imagine the young actress set to star in Martin McDonagh's Tony Award-winning play The Pillowman ever feeling overwhelmed. "I stood on stage once, it was a monologue and I just went utterly blank. It seemed like about five minutes, I was about to walk off the stage when suddenly it came back to me. I'll never forget it."

Despite this brush with nerves Murray has performed regularly since the age of nine. "I started drama classes in Clontarf. In my first play, my official title was Rogue Number One, I loved it," she says with a laugh. The classes became a big focus for the young Murray and despite a hiatus in her late teens, the stunning Dubliner knew that she ultimately wanted to act, which led to a move to Galway at 18 to study Arts with Theatre Performance at NUIG.

Her parents, though encouraging, were happy that there was a practical element to the course should her acting career not pan out. "They were on board, though maybe my mum is a little bit worried about it now, as making a living can be touch and go." While Murray has overcome her stage fright she still admits to some nerves upon meeting playwright Martin McDonagh. "I had actually read the play in college and written an essay about it so it's amazing to be in it now." Murray also directed a production of McDonagh' s The Lonesome West during college, in which her Pillowman co-star Jarlath Tivnan also acted. "We are both such McDonagh fans ... It's amazing to think he wrote The Pillowman when he was only 19, he is just a genius."

Murray plays the role of Evil Mother, who crucifies her daughter, in a play that treads a fine line between comedy and tragedy, fantasy and reality. "It shouldn't be as funny as it is," chuckles Murray "but it works and it's down to McDonagh's writing." Murray is sharing the stage with some talented actors including Love/Hate's Gary Lydon and comedian David McSavage; "I'm learning so much from watching them... it's a really great experience for me and I'm so grateful for it."

She may be grateful but she is also driven, even during the preparation for The Pillowman - the most high-profile show she has worked on - Murray was also co-directing another production, Mary Mary Mary; "It's funny, as the two plays are on at the same time. I'll never get to see the other run but that's the job - you just direct it and then let them off."

While Murray enjoys directing, her preference is acting though she is realistic about her chosen profession; "It's unnerving. Unless you are extremely lucky and get a huge break I think the life of an actor is really tough but for people who do it, it's almost a bit of a vocation."

Murray has a greater perspective than most on the life of a performer. Her late father was Colm Murray, the beloved RTE broadcaster, whom Murray credits with teaching her to adopt a laid-back attitude to the pressures of a high-profile job. "He loved his job so much, I don't think it felt like work to him, really, and I would love to love what I do as much as he did, he was quite cool and never got stressed.

"It's a year and a bit on and in ways it still doesn't seem real sometimes," Murray recognises she is still coming to terms with her father's death from Motor Neuron Disease and admits that she probably threw herself into work and tried to return to some semblance of normality a bit prematurely; "I was in a haze".

She feels now that something she can take from the harrowing experience of losing her father barely two years after his diagnosis is that we all must take life as it comes.

After such a difficult year, undoubtedly good things are coming her way.

Sunday Independent

Life Newsletter

Our digest of the week's juiciest lifestyle titbits.

Editors Choice

Also in Life