Starring in Laura Eason’s Sex With Strangers, which opened last week at San Jose Stage, Matthew Kropschot never intended to be an actor. The Danville native was planning to become a psychologist when he took a theater course at San Jose State to meet a graduation requirement.
“I ended up getting excited about every project,” Kropschot said. “The next year I auditioned for shows at San Jose State. I had a blast. I changed my major and graduated with the theater degree instead of a psychology degree.”
This wasn’t as big a change as it might seem.
“I love exploring people,” he said. “Acting is the same exploration of human beings: What’s driving another person, what do they want and why.”
Sex With Strangers digs into this question. The first line of the play is, “Who are you?”
Kropschot’s character, Ethan Kane, once upon a time wanted to be a screenwriter. He gains popularity blogging quasi-fictionally about sex with strangers, and compiles these posts into a book. The play opens as a movie studio is making this bestseller into a movie. At the same time, Kane is trying to write a serious novel and not having much success with it.
“This is someone who wanted to be a writer, but ended up being successful at it in the wrong kinds of ways and for all the wrong kind of reasons,” said Kropschot. “He’s all about justifying his actions. The play explores who we really are to the people we know, and who we are and how we project ourselves online.
“It’s interesting to see how he changes,” Kropschot continues. “At the end of the show, the audience is going to have to make a decision about whether this person gets what he wanted.”
Asked what role he would like to play were he given the opportunity to play any role, Kropschot answers without hesitation: Vladimir in Samuel Beckett’s 1949 play Waiting for Godot. Unfortunately, he says he’ll probably never get to do it because the place is so out of style right now.
“Everyone told me this is a pointless play, but I’m a contrarian,” said Kropschot. “So, I read it and I was captivated by it.”
While there have been hundreds of interpretations of Godot, Kropschot sees its meaning to be this: “The play considers what makes it worthwhile to live every day,” he said. “We live in a meaningless world, but we have power to create meaning in it.”