When Mt. Laurel resident Wade Brodsky lost his mother Mary Cardis to a drunk driver in October, it was only two weeks before the scheduled opening for a production of Irish playwright Martin McDonagh’s “The Pillowman” that Brodsky was directing with the Sketch Club Players of Woodbury.
After several months of delay, the production is once again near opening, only now the show will serve as a fundraiser to help create a scholarship in memory of Cardis for the Sketch Club’s youth summer arts camp.
“We as a theater believe, and my mother felt the same, kids are the lifeblood of the theater,” Brodsky said. “We always incorporate at least one or two shows where there are kids on our main stage just to give them the chance to experience the art.”
According to Brodsky, costs associated with running the camp can cause participation fees to become costly for some families, and since Cardis always shared her son’s love of theater and the arts, a scholarship in her memory seemed like the perfect way to honor what she believed in.
Brodsky said he can recall his mother encouraging his love of theater as far back as age 5, and even with his siblings who limited their forays into the arts to singing at school, Cardis was always supportive.
“It was very important to her to do that,” Brodsky said. “She’d come to see every show I was in. We’d go see shows together here around Philadelphia, and she just loved it so much.”
Brodsky said the plot and themes of “The Pillowman” also made the show a great choice to honor his mother.
“The Pillowman” follows the story of a fiction writer living in a police state who becomes involved in a police interrogation over the content of his short stories and their similarities to several murders that have occurred in town.
“The show is not just about art and the freedom of expressing your art, but it’s also about child abuse, the choices that parents make, how they affect their children whether in a positive or a negative way, so it kind of encompassed everything she believed in,” Brodsky said.
As he aged, Brodsky said his mother would also become well known at the various theater companies he worked for and performed at, including the Sketch Club.
When the idea of using the upcoming production as fundraiser was first discussed, Brodsky said the theater was on board from the beginning.
“She was always very supportive of Wade,” said Sketch Club president Patricia Mangano. “I’ve known Wade for almost 20 years now … so we feel it’s great that another young person gets an opportunity to delve into theater.”
The show’s cast members also agreed to forgo pay for the production, such as Mt. Laurel resident Anders Adams, who said he fell in love with the show and its fundraising goal.
“As an actor, there are the projects that you do for the money or the credit, and then there’s things you do because you love them, and this is definitely the latter,” Anders said.
Brodsky said the fundraising aspect of the production is a great reason to support the show, but he also hopes audiences will come see a play he believes will hold their interest and deeply affect them.
“Yes, it’s a fundraiser. Yes, we would love to make the money for it, but I also want to make people think and I want them to be moved and I want the story to sit with them long after they leave the theater,” Brodsky said.
The Sketch Club Players of Woodbury’s production of “The Pillowman” will run from Feb. 18 through Feb. 21. Showtimes are at 8 p.m. on Feb. 18, 19 and 20 and at 2 p.m. on Feb. 21.
To purchase tickets or learn more about the Sketch Club’s summer arts camp and the Mary Cardis Scholarship for Young Performers, visit www.sketchclubplayers.org.