Just days after the presidential election, Fresno City College tackles “Farragut North,” an intriguing political drama about a candidate’s campaign staff during a presidential caucus.
I caught up with Dylan Hardcastle, who plays a character named Ben, to talk about the show, which opens Friday.
Q: Briefly put, what is “Farragut North” about?
A: “Farragut North” is a political thriller about some of the things that are happening behind the scenes during a democratic presidential campaign set during the Iowa caucus. The play follows Stephen Bellamy (Aaron Schoonover), the press secretary for one of the candidates (Morris), and how his ego gets the best of him. He makes a lot of mistakes and, in trying to save himself, seems to only tear himself further down.
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Q. What is the significance of the title?
A: Farragut North is actually a street in Washington D.C. where a majority of the headquarters and offices are for political parties. It is where most politicians, after they have served, work for the remainder of their careers. The significance of the title is that Farragut North is where Stephen is doomed to end up.
Q: You play a character named Ben. Tell us about him and how he fits into the play.
A: Ben is very new to political campaigning. This is his first campaign, fresh out of college, and he definitely looks up to both Stephen and Paul (James Schott), Stephens boss. Ben is very much in the perspective of the audience. He watches all of the events of the show unfold, and basically uses the mistakes of others to make his way to the top.
Q: Your show opens just three days after what might be the most bitter presidential election ever. Do you think there’s a danger of “politics fatigue” among audience members?
A: There is definitely a fear in all of us that people will be completely drained of all interest in a political show, just days after this big of an election. However, we do hope, and think, that people will see this more as a show that relates so much to what we are going through with this year’s election.
Q: The play is based on the 2004 campaign of Democratic candidate Howard Dean. How much did you know about Dean when you got the role?
A: I did not know really anything about the campaign of Howard Dean. However, after the weeks spent in this show, I did a fair amount of research into that campaign and saw that there are many, many similarities and parallels between “Farragut North” and the Dean campaign.
Q: Do you think you’d be a supporter of Howard Dean today?
A: I feel that I would support Dean if he were running today. Regardless of the actual election, he definitely had some stances on major issues that I agree with completely.
Q: As part of the rehearsal process, I understand that director Charles Erven had the cast sit and talk about the current presidential campaign. What were those sessions like? Did things ever get heated?
A: It was really more of a relaxed conversation. Every now and then, we sat down, usually as people were showing up, and talked about things like the recent presidential debates and what our thoughts were about certain candidates. The conversations never got aggressive, or “heated.” Everyone seemed very civilized and understanding with the others opinion.
Q: “Farragut North” shows the inside story of a campaign, and it isn’t necessarily pretty. Has this play made you more cynical about politics?
A: The play has not made me dislike the idea of politics, but it has definitely opened my eyes to some of the corruptness that is used in these campaigns. The has also gotten me more interested in politics than I thought I’d ever be.
Q: Tell us a little about your interest in acting and some of your shows at Central High School. Did your big brother, Ethan, help stoke your interest in becoming an actor?
A: My interest in acting started in my freshman year of high school. I used it as a way to get closer to a friend of mine, and, within weeks, fell in love with the art. After that, I definitely watched what my brother Ethan did, and sort of followed the same path as him in the theatre world. He was an amazing influence for me, and he was someone whom I aspired to please.
Q: Do you think you’d ever consider becoming a politician?
A: Absolutely. This show has boosted my interest in the world of politics so much, and, because of that, I now understand a lot about some of the processes in participating in some sort of political job.
Q: Tell us a little about the staging of the show.
A: It is very unique. It is being done in a thrust style, where the audience is on three different sides of the staging area. Also, we are using these really cool giant blocks that open up into rooms and other set pieces. The blocking of the show moves very smoothly and naturally.
Q: Anything else you’d like to say?
A: This has been an amazing show to be a part of. The whole cast is very talented, and everyone feeds off of the others energy and emotion. I feel truly honored to be a part of a show this unique, topical, and impacting.
- Opens Friday and runs through Nov. 19
- Fresno City College Studio Theatre
- www.fresnocitycollege.edu, 559-442-8221
- $14, $12 students and seniors.