by Billy Clouse
"Assassins" opens this Friday in the Anes Theatre. It has been in the works since last semester, and Thunderground is providing an exclusive first look into the production.
Dress rehearsal photo gallery
Hear from one of the actors
Henry Ballesteros, a senior classical acting major from Layton, was one of four actors who sat down with Thunderground for an interview. Below is a transcription of the interview. Read more about "Assassins" in the November edition of Revolt, out on Friday.
Tell me a little about your character.
“I play Sam Byck, who attempts to assassinate Nixon by trying to hijack an airplane, but the airplane never got off the ground, it never left the gate. He’s kind of credited as the first person to use a plane as a weapon to fly it into a building, which didn’t come to light until after 9/11, but no one really knows about him. The reason why he wears a Santa coat in the show is because he would protest regularly outside the White House, so Secret Service knew him, but he wore it once to get attention. He was out of work, he checked himself into psych wards all the time, he was just a really lonely person. He’s very much what we would call insane.”
Are there any relatable qualities with this character?
“Yeah, I think we all want to have connections with each other and with people, and he doesn’t really have that. He had horrible successes in life, which he attributed to the government — that’s what he does. We all have failures in life, and I think his was taken too literally and he didn’t know how to cope. We all want to be loved, like Victor Hugo once said, “The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved,” and he just doesn’t feel that.”
What is something interesting about Byck?
“Written in the show, his favorite food is Burger King. When I first started doing the show, it’s all I would eat, and I need to start working out after the show. I’m always singing the Burger King theme song from the 1970’s, so that’s a little interesting Easter Egg I put in there.”
Did you put yourself in the character?
“There’s times that all of us have felt not validated in what we do. I try not to put myself too much in this character because I have to go home, and I don’t want him hanging around. Backstage, I look up Onion articles and just make as many jokes as I possibly can because he’s a really dark character, probably one of the darker characters in the show.”
What’s been your favorite part of working on “Assassins?”
“(I’ve loved) working with this cast and working with Tiffani Allen (the student director). She’s really let me and all of us really explore these characters. This is my first time in the Anes Theatre, and I love this space, it’s fantastic. This is my 11th production here (at SUU) and every time, it keeps getting better, and this is no exception.”