Sasha Andreev is one of only two cast members who bring all of the characters in understood to life. Sasha infuses heart, passion, and incredible skill into this performance, and we recently chatted with him about his rehearsal experience.
Tell us about your role(s).
I play Chris, an outspoken liberal urbanite in an emotional rut, whose marriage has deteriorated without him noticing. After a confrontation with his wife Julie, he receives cold call from a woman with whom he makes a surprisingly profound connection, finding himself re-examining his beliefs, his priorities and whether he has become the person he wanted to be. I also play Josh, a working-class, pro-gun, small-town conservative with a difficult past, whose encounter with Julie takes an unexpected turn. Unlike Chris, Josh is reticent to share his thoughts with others, but as the play progresses, we see some of those walls crumble, revealing his vulnerability and capacity to really “see” other people. While these men come from opposite sides of the fence in many ways, which has undoubtedly been a challenge as an actor, it’s also been interesting to explore the overlap in their desire to connect, to be loved and understood.
Why this project? Why now?
We are currently in such a divisive and toxic political climate, which has undoubtedly put a strain on our relationships with our loved ones, on both sides of the political divide. What I love about “Understood” is how it shines a light on that breakdown, but also offers up some hope in how we can start rebuilding some of those connections. With the cynicism that is so present in our culture, which I’ve often felt myself, I think that hope is really important in moving us forward in our families, our relationships, and as a country.
You’ve been involved with Understood since the first workshop in 2017. How has living with these characters for so long informed your process?
“Understood” is such a complicated and challenging piece in its subject matter, its structure, and even the text itself. For me, being involved in the initial workshop planted the seeds of who these characters are, and revisiting it over the course of a year has helped cultivate a personal history and familiarity with them, which I think is necessary for telling this story more authentically.
Why work with Trademark?
My first experience with Trademark was the first workshop for “Understood”, and I immediately felt a strong connection with the piece as well as the artistic team. I’ve always been passionate about being involved in the development of new work, and I was drawn by Trademark Theater’s mission to create original art through a collaborative, playful and generous multi-disciplinary process. The opportunity to explore this story in a safe creative space has been very exciting, and certainly challenging, but there is such an immediacy and a resonance in this play that I hope makes as much of an impact on our audience as it has on me.