NICK EDDINGER/SAGAMORE STAFF
The camera pans down to a full shot of a purple house and as the video shifts to a clip of a teenage boy waking up for school, MGMT’s “Time to Pretend” plays in the background. This music video, along with several other short films, all belong to senior Max Murphy’s YouTube channel where he shares his creative work in acting and film.
Whether it is going over lines with a friend, standing on stage dressed in a completely new character or even directing his own work, Murphy is always learning and growing in his artistic work, as well as in leadership skills, through his passion for theater and filmmaking.
Murphy originally became interested in the performing arts in middle school, where he joined musicals and made videos for his classes, and eventually pursued theater and film at the high school to continue to shape and impact others.
“Whenever I do comedy, I’m just trying to lift their spirits. It’s really great for people to sit back and have a laugh even if it’s just for a half an hour play,” Murphy said. “Especially when I make films that are hopefully impactful, I hope people can either go away agreeing with my point or seeing the perspective of what I’m trying to say.”
Murphy also noted that he has been able to grow in his performing abilities and has gotten to know more than just acting comedy. In his role as Valentine in “The Two Gentlemen of Verona,” he tackled much more intense and complicated emotions than before, and in his comedic music video for MGMT’s “Time to Pretend,” Murphy used a humorous approach to handle the serious topic of isolation.
“It’s really a whole different ball game when you’re trying to balance all these different emotions in a play and that’s how I’ve probably grown the most,” Murphy said. “For me, it’s a lot easier to act comedy because if you’re funny, people laugh, but if you’re doing a drama scene, you don’t want the audience to react, you don’t want them to be talking.”
According to fellow senior and friend Jacob Zachary-Flanders, Murphy’s creating and performing abilities have progressed throughout his time at the high school.
“I’ve seen Max as this hilarious kid who is quieter, and then I’ve definitely seen him break out and have so much fun on stage,” Zachary-Flanders said. “I think what makes a performance fun to watch is when someone themselves is having fun and I always feel that with him.”
According to performing arts teacher Mark Vanderzee, he has also seen Murphy grow, as he was assigned to be “co-captain” of the Needs Improvment class.
“He’s a classic role model in the respect that he walks the walk and students see and appreciate that, but I knew that more of a specified position of vocal leadership was going to be a challenge for him and he’s growing into it,” Vanderzee said.
For Murphy, he feels that acting in improv has helped him develop skills he can apply to other aspects of his life.
“There’s a big fear for a lot of people about not doing the right thing and with improv, you’re forced to just go with the flow and not worry about messing up,” Murphy said. “I think that’s something I’ve really taken into my life, just being fearless while being smart.”
Zachary-Flanders talked about how Murphy has become more willing to trust his own creative ideas.
“Everything I see him doing, I see him bringing his own lens to it and having a vision for something, or I see him being so creative with a character, and for improv that’s very important, that distinct character that I see him come onto stage in,” Zachary-Flanders said.
Murphy learned to believe in his instincts and the value of attempting something new or different.
“It doesn’t matter if you try something different and it doesn’t work at all, the point is that you tried and that you try again the next time, and you keep trying,” Murphy said. “Eventually something will work and that’s the great thing about the artistic process.”