Arts interview

Inside Arcadia

Cast members discuss performing in Arcadia and acting at MIT

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Garrett Schulte ‘17 (Septimus Hodge) and Keenan Sunderwirth ‘14 (Thomasina Coverly) in MIT Dramashop’s production of Arcadia.

Dramashop’s production of Arcadia continues this week, with performances from Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. in Little Kresge Theater. The play draws parallels between two eras of residents at Sidley Park in England their rumination on science and love. While the play asks serious questions about determinism and love, there are also plenty of laughs. The Tech interviewed cast members Keenan A. Sunderwirth ’14 and Garrett W. Schulte ’17.

The Tech: What was the audition process like?

KS: For our audition, everyone walked into a room. There were about 20 people, and everyone read from the scenes. Everyone read the parts together, but usually we read them individually. I got a private callback the next day, and the director [Kim Mancuso] told me “I want to hear you read again for Thomasina and Hannah.” I really liked both characters, but I felt an affinity for Thomasina. But Hannah gets to say “No, I’m going to kick you in the balls,” which is the best line in the play.

TT: Did you know what part you wanted to play?

KS: I hadn’t read the play before the audition, but I heard from friends that it was incredible. I liked both characters [Thomasina and Hannah], but as I said, I thought Thomasina was really cool and I had an affinity for her.

GS: Before the audition I read the SparkNotes to get a general overview of the relationships. I read for both Valentine and Septimus. Valentine was fun, and Septimus reminded me of characters I had played before. He is really witty and I liked the back-and-forth he has with other characters. So I put down Septimus on my preference sheet.

TT: So the play contained some interesting, contradictory ideas about love and sex and science. Do you think love and science are mutually exclusive for Thomasina?

KS: Not at all. Thomasina goes in believing that love is a distraction, but she doesn’t end up feeling that way. Rather, she finds that love is not so different from passion for learning and discovery. Both are inspiring and positive.

TT: Do you have any advice or suggestions for someone coming to see the play for the first time?

GS: Honestly, there are two fields of thought. Some of the cast didn’t tell anyone anything, and they were mostly able to follow.

KS: Arcadia is such a dense play. You get more out of it if you see it again.

GS: I told my parents about the main plot and consistency. They got most of the play, but they said they wanted to see it again.

TT: How did you guys develop your comic timing?

KS: One thing that was interesting is that we didn’t really spend time looking for it

GS: The reason why it’s funny is because it’s real people and real situations. Sometimes when I leave the stage, I’m surprised because the audience found something funny and I didn’t expect it.

KS: We find the serious bits and the funny bits and make them as real as we can. When you commit they laugh, when they’re supposed to and when they’re not supposed to. The audience is smarter than you.

TT: Anything else?

KS: This is my favorite modern play. It’s so dense and beautifully crafted. The characters are funny and smart and realized in a way that is original for an idea play. I think everyone’s life will be better if they see this play!