Kevin Patrick Murphy’s New York roots are showing. The founder of The Actor’s Center of Asheville takes huge strides and talks fast — leftover traits from his previous home base. The actor began training in 1991 at the Studio Arena Theater School in Buffalo, N.Y., and has since worked in theater, commercials, television and film. He even filmed a scene with Susan Sarandon for an upcoming release, The Last of Robin Hood.
But it’s also possible that Murphy’s brisk pace is because he’s excited. The Actor’s Center of Asheville, which previously held classes at the BeBe Theater and Nourish & Flourish in the River Arts District, is unveiling its new location just outside Black Mountain. A warehouse space in the Eastside Business Park (former site of the Drexel Heritage furniture plant) has been transformed. It now features a raised stage area, rows of cushioned chairs, plus lighting and camera equipment. There’s also an office area, as well as sofas for lounging. On Saturday, July 26, the public can get a look at it all during the center’s open house party.
With a dedicated space (hence the move to Black Mountain, though the center will keep Asheville in its name), Murphy can expand class offerings and have the freedom to do more. Live performances, readings and even film screenings are all in the works.
The center’s focus, however, is on its ongoing classes, with many students studying with Murphy for years. The Monday adult class is filled with advanced students (many of whom have agents), while the Tuesday class is designed more for beginners. “I’ve seen a trend of musicians checking out acting,” Murphy notes. He also offers classes for teens as well as personal coaching.
“My job is to keep it exciting,” Murphy says about his work as a teacher and mentor. He doesn’t subscribe to any particular method or theory, although he’s studied them all. “I’m here to help you find your process, not impose one on you. Acting is about finding the truth.”
Murphy describes The Actor’s Center of Asheville as a gym of sorts: “You have to work the muscles,” he says. Classes typically begin with improvisation. Students also work on audition material, hold mock auditions and bring in scene work. About a year ago, actor Miles Rice needed some audition tapes, and Murphy coached him though the process. “After that we did some private lessons, then I joined his class,” Rice says. Last February, he won the role of Stanley Kowalski in Hendersonville Little Theatre’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire. Three months ago, Rice landed agent Rusty Wiggs of Artists Resource Agency. Teen actor Myles Moore, who has been working with Murphy for two years, recently signed with Tout Talent Agency.
Since Murphy is himself a working actor, he’s able to keep on top of trends in the constantly changing film industry. But signing with an agent, he says, is only the beginning. “Actors can get complacent waiting for their agent to get them work,” Murphy says. He believes they should identify their “castability” (the roles for which casting directors will most likely consider them) — and for good reason: In June, casting director Jackie Burch (Iron Man 3, The Hunger Games) visited the Actor’s Center of Asheville to meet students.
“I try to generate excitement every day,” Murphy says, “because it leads to more excitement.”
WHAT: The Actor’s Center of Asheville open house party with music by The John Henrys
WHERE: 104 Eastside Drive, Suite 523, Black Mountain. theactorscenterasheville.com
WHEN: Saturday, July 26, 6-8 p.m.