Martin Moran Returns to A.C.T.'s Conservatory

By Elspeth Sweatman

“The more you dare to dive into what is deeply personal,” says OBIE Award winner Martin Moran about creating and performing solo work, “the more you just come out the other side. It’s not you at all. It’s just human. And it’s amazing.”

Moran—a former student in A.C.T.’s Advanced Training Program (the forerunner of the M.F.A. Program)—is currently performing his two one-man shows The Tricky Part and All the Rage in repertory at A.C.T.’s Strand Theater. On a rainy afternoon, he sat down with current M.F.A. Program actors in The Costume Shop to discuss the thrilling—and sometimes nauseating—process of creating, editing, and performing your own material.

“There’s a real loneliness to writing, and there’s a great loneliness to solo work,” says Moran. “But in the form that I’m working with, the direct address, my partner is the audience, and that is incredibly joyous.”

M.F.A. Program Actors, Dramaturg Michael Paller, and Martin Moran.
Photo by Elspeth Sweatman.
As the Broadway veteran speaks, the student actors lean forward in their chairs. Many of them are in the process of writing their own solo shows for January’s Sky Festival. In the midst of this creative process, they are a bundle of nerves, doubts, hopes, and dreams. Now, they have the chance to pick the brain of a master. They listen, totally absorbed.

For Moran, creating a play is like being an actor. “Allow what wants to come through and trust it. Cultivate faith in your impulses as an artist. All of us are somehow called to this endeavor of provoking moments of mystery. Because who really knows? There’s a breath, and we connect.”

Martin Moran and the M.F.A. Program Actors. Photo by Elspeth Sweatman.
The best piece of advice Moran had for these young actors was simple: Be where your feet are.

“It goes back to A.C.T., to that beautiful training I had here,” he says. “Trust that the creature, the soul that you are is the essence of what you bring into the room. You make these transformations that add up to a character—they can be as simple as a lisp—but it’s still this human energy. It’s still the thrum of my own soul in my feet, in the room, with this breath, in this moment. And it’s enough.”

Martin Moran is performing his one-man shows The Tricky Part and All the Rage in repertory at A.C.T.’s Strand Theater through December 11. Click here to purchase tickets through our website.

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