UAlbany Senior Appears in Lynn Nottagge’s ‘Sweat’ at theREP

A man in a pinstripe shirt and vest stands behind a wooden bar and looks at a customer seated at the bar. A tall glass of beer sits between them.
UAlbany senior John Martinez Soliz (left) appears in Lynn Nottage's play, Sweat, running now through Sunday at the Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany. (Photo by Lorraine Toth)

By Bethany Bump

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 26, 2024) — UAlbany senior John Martinez Soliz discovered his love for acting by accident.

An English major who had always loved writing and creating stories, Martinez Soliz decided to take a playwriting class at UAlbany in an effort to bolster his dialogue-writing skills and one day write a film script. That led him to take an acting class, but it wasn’t until he filmed his first monologue last spring that he realized he wanted to pursue acting as a professional passion.

“The technique that I used to put myself into the role shut everything else out completely that I had been going through at the time,” he said. “It felt therapeutic in a way. I found what I like to call flow state, where you just let your mind run and something beautiful comes out of it.”

He began to film more monologues for the fun of it and in the fall of 2023 he tried out and was cast in his first play, Lynn Nottage’s Clyde’s, being put on by the Theatre Program. Four months later, he made his first professional debut as Oscar in another Nottage play, Sweat, which began its run at the Capital Repertory Theatre (theREP) in Albany on March 8 and will end this Sunday.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning play about the loss of work in America’s Rust Belt circa 2000 tackles tough topics like class, race and violence. It’s set at a local hangout for steel workers, where a strike is imminent and resentments have exploded after one of the regulars gets a promotion and delivers news that the factory is cutting jobs and wages.

A man with his shirt sleeves rolled up and wearing a backpack gestures inside a bar.
John Martinez Soliz in Sweat (Photo by Lorraine Toth)

Martinez Soliz said the play is based on interviews Nottage did with residents of Reading, Pennsylvania, which is why the dialogue feels so rooted in real life.

“All of these conversations, they’re real,” he said. “You want a play that shows you what real life is, I’m telling you, Sweat will show you what real life is. But it’s not just a serious play. You’ll laugh, too.”

Sweat will run every day this week starting at 7:30 p.m. on today, Wednesday and Thursday; 8 p.m. on Friday; 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday; and 2 p.m. on Sunday. Buy tickets here.

A native of Cuenca, Ecuador, Martinez Soliz moved to the United States around the age of 5 and was raised on Long Island. He chose to attend UAlbany because it was an affordable school that could provide him with a college experience away from home, he said.

While he arrived to acting later than some, he was able to earn enough credits at UAlbany to minor in theatre. He plans to pursue acting professionally once he graduates this spring, he said.

His time at UAlbany not only gave him his first foray into the industry, he said, but the social and interpersonal skills necessary to thrive in any setting.

“UAlbany allowed me to go outside my comfort zone, not only with acting, but with everything,” he said. “I was able to explore so much of myself that I don't know I would have had the chance to do if I was at other universities.”