Oct. 29

Brendan Dunphy

As a producer of The Skull of Connemara, Brendan Dunphy also has created some of the stage sets in his Ames garage. Photo by Bob Elbert.

Mosquito researcher buggy about acting

by Tim Greene, News Service

Many an aspiring actor has waited tables or parked cars, but probably few have spent their days studying mosquitoes and malarial parasites. Brendan Dunphy, who graduated from Iowa State in 2007 with degrees in zoology, entomology and animal ecology, is making his run at show business while working as a research associate in the Medical Entomology Lab in Science Hall II.

Dunphy is thankful for the flexibility his job provides to allow him to pursue his acting passion.

"My supervisors realize that my artistic pursuits are integral aspects of who I am personally and professionally. They allow my schedule to accommodate my theatrical needs, and for that I am very grateful," he said.

But he's not just filling time in entomology. Dunphy reports that he really enjoys his research and will be published in the upcoming issue of The Journal of Medical Entomology for his findings on an exotic mosquito species in Iowa. He also is part of a surveillance program studying insect-borne viruses across the state.

From 'James' to the guild

Yet acting is his first love -- and it was almost love at first sight when Dunphy landed his debut role -- the title role in the ISU production of James and the Giant Peach in 2005.

Since that play, Dunphy has appeared in a number of commercials, corporate videos, films and theater productions, including an Iowa State "Choose Your Adventure" commercial. He landed a supporting role in the 2009 feature film 16 to Life.

"I have a particular fondness for this film because it was the one that made me eligible for the Screen Actors Guild, and I have also been involved in marketing the film in the independent film festival circuit," Dunphy said. "My commitment thus extended beyond my shoot days, which is something I haven't experienced with any other film project."

And now a production company

Dunphy is setting up new a theater company, Mooncoin Entertainment. Starting Thursday, Oct. 29, Mooncoin will showcase five plays, set in western Ireland by playwright and filmmaker Martin McDonagh, at the Des Moines Social Club, 1408 Locust St.

He grew interested in McDonagh's work after acting in a StageWest Theater production of The Lieutenant of Inishmore. After reading all of McDonagh's published plays, he decided to produce the works of the Irish playwright. Last fall, he spent five weeks in Ireland conducting related research.

"I spent over a month traveling, taking photos of the landscape and collecting audio recordings. I brought scripts and recorded natives speaking the lines to get authentic records of the dialect," Dunphy said. "Although it is quite uncommon for producers to cross an ocean to do research, I thought it was essential to really experience the settings."

His travels connected him with new friends and some amazing stories of lost relatives.

"I went to Ireland with the intent to do research. I came back with connections to a family I didn't know I had, amazing stories, insight, an application for dual-citizenship (which is being processed) and a desire to go back," Dunphy said.

He returned to Ireland for two more weeks of research in the spring. He brought back a theater company name that links directly to his ancestry.

"The name 'Mooncoin Entertainment' was named after the birthplace of my grandfather James Dunphy, who was born in Mooncoin, Ireland," Dunphy said. "He emigrated 60 years ago."

The shows

Mooncoin Entertainment's presentation of A Skull in Connemara starts at 7 p.m. Oct. 29-30 and Nov. 5-7. The Oct. 31 performance begins at midnight, and there will be two Sunday matinees (2 p.m. curtain) Nov. 1 and Nov. 8. Tickets are $12 in advance or $15 at the door. Additional information is available at www.desmoinessocialclub.org. Tickets can be purchased at www.iowatix.com.