Two brothers, two cops, countless child murders and 400 stories populate the first play produced by Life in Arts Productions theater company. Set in a police state, The Pillowman is about the interrogation of a fiction writer named Katurian, whose gruesome stories have an uncanny resemblance to real-life murders. With its production of the 2003 award-winning play by Martin McDonagh, the company hopes to focus on expanding community dialogue in our new political climate. WW sat down with Benjamin Philip, a founding member of the new company and the actor who will play Katurian in the show. CHRISTA MCINTYRE.

WW: What does experimental theater mean to you?
Benjamin Philip: By bringing people together in a safe space, we are able to tackle not only things that have happened in our own lives, but what’s going on in the world around us. It’s been a very surreal thing the last 10 or so rehearsals, as I no longer have to work very hard to have an idea of what a totalitarian fascist dictatorship feels like.

Do you think of your company as having a responsibility to respond to social issues?
I think as artists, we really have to step up. I’m not sure if you heard about the Ghostlight Project [in which people across the country gathered at theaters pledged to create inclusive spaces], but that’s something in particular I can point to. That idea of “we are gathering this light in the darkness.”

How do you feel The Pillowman relates to that agenda?
Trump’s whole war against the media can be very much read into this totalitarian government’s war against these storytellers. My hope is that we’ve created an experience where people can come and see this play and say, “Wow, McDonagh was writing about something back then that is now getting a bit too close to home.”

SEE IT: The Pillowman plays at the Headwaters Theatre, 55 NE Farragut St. 7:30 pm Thursday-Sunday, Feb. 10-25. $10-$15.