Arts » Arts Etc.

Arts : Of interrogation and empathy



One for the Road’s Rick Frederick talks about Pinter and politics

“The man that I play thinks that he’s doing the right thing,” says Rick Frederick, who starred in the Attic Repertory Theatre’s production of Nobel Prize-winner Harold Pinter’s One For the Road. “I think that’s something to consider in a world where we have less and less gray area.”
Actor Rick Frederick played the interrogator Nick in the Attic Repertory’s performance of Harold Pinter’s One for the Road last week at Trinity University. The show sold out its three performances, a gratifying debut for both the company and Frederick, who was on stage for the first time since relocating to San Antonio from Chicago in 2005. He spoke last week with the Current about the play’s political and personal significance.

How did you get involved with the Attic Repertory Theatre?

I met Tim Hedgepeth, through Kate McNay actually, and then I wait tables at Liberty Bar and I was waiting on him one day when he told me they were starting a company and that I should consider auditioning. He had heard that I was an actor.

Were you familiar with One for the Road?

I had actually done it in college before, but I hadn’t remembered that I had done it. I had done it in scene study I think I had worked on it in a class or something like that. But I hadn’t realized that until I was into it thinking, “God, this is starting to feel really familiar,” and then I realized, “Oh, yeah, 20 years ago I worked on it in a class.”

Why do you think this piece is relevant now?

Well, it does bring a lot of It’s a universal play. It is talking about the use of torture and rape and violence and intimidation, and it was written in the ’80s in response to the Dirty Wars `in Latin America`. But you know we have, I don’t know how to say this without being too pointed, but we’re doing it now. We’re still doing it.

Yes, we are.

It’s an interesting look at how things can go wrong. You look at what happens to the victim, but then, of course, because of the role that I’m playing, I had to really look at what happens to the perpetrator of the crime, or the interrogator, and it was interesting through our research talking to different people. The man that I play thinks that he’s doing the right thing. I think that’s something to consider in a world where we have less and less gray area. Everything becomes more black and white. It eliminates responsibility and we need to remember that we’re responsible for our actions, and we have to think for ourselves.

I know this play ended a long period of writer’s block for Pinter.

After you write it, what do you write about? Then he felt like he just couldn’t entertain anymore.

He just got into a very political period.

I personally have stopped doing theater because I couldn’t — I mean it wasn’t any sort of political thing, it was more an artistic thing — I really didn’t know why I was telling stories. And there are so many people doing theater, and in so many different ways, and I wasn’t really getting a sense of why I was telling stories. So I took a sabbatical; it’s been five years since I’ve been onstage. Doing this play really made me feel like, oh, OK, this is why we tell stories.

You’ve given me a sense of what was gratifying about working on the piece. What was most challenging as an actor?

Trying to sympathize with `my character`. You know, being a liberal myself, it’s appalling to me, and I wanted to pass judgment. For me it was about neutralizing that impulse and trying to really discover why this man thinks he’s right. And it really speaks to the climate of hate and intolerance in our own lives now. If you don’t subscribe to a certain religion, or you don’t have a certain sexual preference


You’re limited. Especially in Texas, we’re taking steps more and more to restrict people’s freedoms based on their beliefs or persuasions or preferences, but those people who are doing it, fighting to put those restrictions in place, or legislation in place, actually think they’re right. They think that they’re making the world clean.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the San Antonio Current Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the San Antonio Press Club for as little as $5 a month.