Veteran actor takes first acting class of career

 Murray Sarkin
Murray Sarkin (left) works with fellow actor Daniel Maier (center), and TPS professor Melanie Long (right).  

After retiring twice, Murray Sarkin takes acting class

KENNESAW, Ga. (Dec 3, 2019) — When it comes to stage experience, first-year acting student Murray Sarkin has a leg up on all of his Kennesaw State classmates. The east Cobb resident has landed parts in dozens of amateur and professional theatrical productions, TV commercials and even an independent film in a successful sideline career that he has pursued for more than 40 years, first in southern California and now in metro Atlanta.

Sarkin, who turns 82 this month, holds a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in vocational counseling degrees. He is long retired from his first career in California state government and, after trying retirement, a second career with the Social Security Administration.

Along the way, the married grandfather decided to try acting as an avocation.

“I didn’t feel acting was a very stable job,” he says.

Now, for a couple days a week, he finds himself sitting in a classroom in the College of the Arts’ Theatre and Performance Studies (TPS) 2202 course: Introduction to Acting. Sarkin says the time was right.

“I have never been enrolled in a college-level class in performing arts,” says Sarkin. “Although I have years [of experience] performing in theatre, I wanted to experience the formal training required to complete courses in theatre arts.”

Forty years ago, after he met and married his wife, Sally, he says he came into acting as a side gig “accidentally.” He started out in a musical called “Territory Folks” (based on the famous production “Oklahoma”) at a temple in California in an ensemble role.

This “accident” snowballed from there: from 1976 to 1992, Sarkin performed in many plays and musicals while in California, including “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Oliver,” “Arsenic and Old Lace,” and “You Can’t Take It With You.”

He’s had a little help from Sally over the years. She routinely runs lines with him for his shows and ends up knowing all of his lines too. “She gives me a lot of acting advice,” says Sarkin, “especially when I go to auditions. She tells me, ‘Just don’t act.’”

Over 20 years ago, the Sarkins moved from sunny California to Marietta, and Murray definitely didn’t let his acting go by the wayside due to the new locale. He has participated in shows for the Georgia Ensemble Theater in Roswell, Marietta Theater in the Square, and Marietta Center Stage North, where he volunteers for three to four plays every year since he first moved to Cobb County.

He also sings in a mixed choir called “The Guys and Dolls,” a group that visits senior citizen centers around Cobb County and performs for them. He’s been featured in commercials for Mohawk Carpet, the Georgia Lottery, Aaron Brothers, and the Connecticut Lottery. The spot for the Connecticut Lottery has been running for eight years, and he still gets residual checks when it airs.

Now, he has decided to go back to the basics with this acting course at KSU. When asked why KSU, he says, “When we moved to Atlanta over 20 years ago, KSU was a 2-year commuter school. I’ve heard it had grown, but never expected to such an extent…I had gone to plays and concerts at KSU, which now has a football team too. I wanted to be on campus and experience that. Plus, some of my friends are pursuing acting.”

Although Sarkin has been retired for over 15 years now, he does not seem to be slowing down. He is a regular at his local gym, taking spin and step classes. He enjoys gardening, and spending time with his family. He regularly auditions for commercials and film projects and most recently auditioned for a comedy farce this past October.

And now, he also has this acting course at KSU, and he’s doing great. His line coach of over 40 years still keeps him on toes, too: when Sarkin first mentioned his interest in taking an acting class at KSU to Sally, her immediate response was, “Are you going to live on campus?”

––Lauren Richmond