Arts interview

Dramashop welcomes spring with a dark comedy

The Tech chats with actors from The Pillowman

The Pillowman

MIT Dramashop

Written by Martin McDonagh

Directed by Janet Sonenberg

April 10 – 12, and 17 – 19 at 7:30 p.m.

Walking down the infinite corridor, you might have noticed the slightly demonic child on the poster for Dramashop’s latest production of The Pillowman. It’s hard to miss, as it looks like the cover of a horror film. The Tech chatted with cast members Salvador Esparza Jr. ’14 and Adam K. Strandberg ’14 about the production, their experiences as actors, and their early days in Dramashop.

TT: The poster for The Pillowman looks really scary. It’s got a kid screaming on it. What is the play about? Is it really that horrifying?

SE: No it’s not that horrifying. The play itself is a dark comedy. It’s actually pretty funny.

AS: It’s about some investigations into child murders. A writer wrote stories that are remarkably similar to the murders, and then a third child goes missing and people think the writer is responsible.

TT: What do you like about the show?

SE: Everything.

AS: The main thing I love is working with Janet Sonenberg, a member of the Theater Arts faculty, and my amazing castmates. On top of that, it can be fun to work with such dark material.

It’s so far from your ordinary day to day life. You deal with this dark horrible stuff, then once the show’s over you can go home. I play the lead detective on the case. It’s fun as an actor to be completely in control of the situation. There’s a rush you get from that, from being able to bend people to your will. And I have a nice fucking suit. I love my costume.

SE: I feel the same way. Working with Janet has been an amazing experience. I was originally hesitant to accept the role because I play Michal, a victim of childhood torture who’s grown up physically, but not mentally. Telling any more would spoil the story. It’s been exciting to explore the material and convey what’s humorous about it.

TT: What challenges did you face putting on this production?

SE: The time scale. We put this together in 32 days, form the 1st rehearsal to opening night. We are also working with a lot of technical challenges.

AS: For example, there are really elaborate lighting and sound schemes during the very fantastical telling of the writer’s stories that involve a lot of tech, and blood. It’s a huge honor to work with the technical staff, like Kent Barrett, who came to MIT this year from working with major companies in NYC.

TT: When and why did you join Dramashop?

AS: We did our first show together our freshman year: Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. That was a collection of skits. Why did I join? I’ve done tons of theater here with a number of groups. This is my 18th production at MIT! I like Dramashop in particular because there’s a huge range of work that we do: everything from Euripides to Chekhov to modern playwrights like McDonagh.

SE: I joined because I’ve done theater since 8th grade and I needed an outlet on campus. It’s a great opportunity as an actor to work with different realms of theatrical experience.

TT: You’re both seniors. What advice do you have for freshmen?

SE: Do theatre. You’ll find a fantastic community on campus who will really support you through your MIT experience. You’ll develop so much as an actor. If you’ve never given it a shot, don’t hesitate. It’ll change your life.