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Black Mountain Playwright-Performer Most Comfortable Revealing Her Life on Stage

Murphy Funkhouser Capps begins writing her plays by living her life.

That’s why it’s impossible to separate the writer and performer from the teenage runaway, the former solo parent, the woman whose husband is battling bone cancer.

Funkhouser Capps’ new autobiographical show, “Carry On,” is an expansion of her first solo show, “Crazy Bag,” which premiered eight years ago. In both, Funkhouser Capps uses luggage as a metaphor for stuffing away life’s accumulated baggage, unpacking and facing it or, just as often, having it bust open all around her -- all the while, carrying it through the blind turns in her life.

“I still had the baggage. I looked through it, sorted it, I’d gotten rid of a few things, but I still had it,” she said. “So I carried that through into my marriage, and when my husband got sick, that’s when I realized that if we don’t let go of things, they go with us.”

Funkhouser Capps sees herself as a storyteller by birthright. Her father was a Methodist chaplain and preacher, her parents sent her off to bible college and, at 19, she fled the school and her family to spend the next two years living out of her car. She was 25 when her family reached out to bring her home with news that her father had killed himself.

“I felt terribly guilty. I absolutely believed with all my heart is was my fault,” she said.

Funkhouser Capps escaped again, this time to Colorado. There was a five-year stretch when nobody in her family knew where she was. She eventually reappeared on her own initiative, after the birth of her first daughter.

She began writing about the tumultuous arc of her life as if journaling, collected into the stories that would become “Crazy Bag.” She performed in Denver, Albuquerque, Oklahoma City, San Francisco. “Carry On” is more an expansion than a sequel.

“The theme that runs through the play is that when I was a little girl, my parents told me if I prayed really hard that God would reveal the plan. So a big part of the play is me searching, opening every bag, picking up every possibility, trying to find that plan,” she said. “At the end of the play, I realize maybe there isn’t a plan, for any of us.”

Performances of “Carry On” are 7:30 Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights at Asheville Community Theatre.


Murphy Funkhouser Capps

Matt Peiken was BPR’s first full-time arts journalist.
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