Andrew Ahrens, pictured here, reflects on his role in The Whipping Man, which begins performances on April 2 at Geva Theatre Center. Andrew plays Caleb, until recently a Confederate solider and the son of a former slave owner, who has just returned to his family’s plantation in Richmond, VA.
“As Caleb stumbles home to his father’s mansion in Richmond, he is expecting everything to be exactly how it was when he left it. Throughout the play, he resorts to old habits: ordering Simon around to do things being the operative example. He is masked by a naiveté that there have been changes in this house, in this family, in this community, in this region, in this nation. It is Caleb’s job and challenge to face and even embrace that change. And so we too, in this modern era, must embrace the changes that are happening around us, face our history, learn from it, and look forward together as a human race, expecting, embracing and cherishing each change as it occurs. This play is so deep and rich that I think we as audience members, actors and crew/producers can learn so much from it. It is filled with the themes of family, deep faith and spirituality, race and love. These characters constantly argue these questions: What is mine? What is yours? What is ours? And once we start discussing and understanding what is ours, what we share and learn to help one another, despite the bitter pains of the past, then can we move forward. And then have we learned the greatest lesson of all. The final question of the play (which is not really a question, but more of a staged image) is where do WE go from here? Are we going separately (and inevitably dying alone) or are we going wherever we go together?”