Texas State Department of Theatre and Dance will be showcasing A Flea In Her Ear, April 5-10.
The University Star sat down with Matthew Drake Shrader, acting senior, who will be playing the doppelganger roles of Victor Emmanuel Chandebise and Poche.
Denise Cervantes: Tell me about your character. Who are you playing? What is he like?
Drake Shrader: In the play I play two characters. Victor Chandebise is an salesman and a very well-established man. The other character I play is Poche, a drunken, ex-army bellboy. Both of the characters are played by the same actor because they are doppelgangers. They’re supposed to look exactly alike, which is the cause of the conflict in the play.
DC: They sound completely opposite. Is that weird for you?
DS: It’s a little different. Poche is a scrambling, smaller guy. He doesn’t have the social status that Victor has. Victor is a very well-established business man, and so it becomes a little challenging there. There are several spots in the play where I leave the stage as Victor and come back on as Poche in 15 seconds. I have a jumpsuit, so I can have my vest, shoes, slacks and come back in as another character.
DC: Do you have a preference for drama or comedy?
DS: I love doing comedy. I’ve only done comedy since I’ve been at the school. That’s where my passion lies. If I had to choose whether to do comedy or drama for the rest of my life, I would choose comedy.
DC: When casting was happening, were you shooting for this role specifically?
DS: I wanted to be in two shows. (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), which just went up, (and A Flea in Her Ear). I was really shooting for Barfée, and I’m not really a singer so that was kind of a long shot. I ended up getting called back for Victor, and at that point I was still kind of on the fence on what the show was. I didn’t really understand it, so in that callback process I started to understand the humor, so I was ecstatic to be cast as Victor.
DC: How would you describe the show to somebody else?
DS: It’s a big who’s-who escapade—a lot of miscommunication that leads characters to being in unfortunate circumstances. But at the same time it’s a show about friendship, love, and identity. I normally tell people it’s a show about people who are dealing with things that they wouldn’t always deal with in real life. It’s an action-driven comedic show.
DC: What are your plans for after graduation?
DS: I’m really into comedy, so I may move to Chicago. I really want to work at Second City, and eventually make my way towards sketch comedy and (Saturday Night Live). But I also have some other career paths, like I think it would be really fun to be a rodeo clown. Something different. I love what I do, so if I can do something in performance and support myself and my family, I’ll be happy.
DC: So besides the rodeo clown, what would be your dream role?
DS: I would love to play Shrek, and I’ve always wanted to play the mother in Hairspray. Because I’m a bigger guy and a character actor, that’s where I find my strength is: to play things that are outside the box.
DC: What do you say when people doubt your passion?
DS: I would consider myself an actor, but I’m also a playwright and a stand-up comic. I’m making myself very diverse, so if it comes down to it I can get a job. If I have to work box office in the day and do community theater at night, I’ll be happy with that. I just love what I do and can’t see myself changing that.
DC: What do you want the audience to take from show?
DS: I want the audience to leave sore from laughing so much, and to leave with this idea that they have to communicate because a lot about the show is about miscommunication. I want people to just leave happy and feeling better. I want them to go home to talk about what they saw.