Being a record of my journey as I undertake a new role that, unlike many others I have played, fills me with a sense of immense challenge and a promise of growth, both as an actor and a seeker.
Laurie and Amy have done the preliminary work on the innermost layer of my body, which is made from Powernet, a spandex fabric which resembles a very thick, strong stocking material. It needs to have a snug fit so that it can anchor the rest of my body. Amy and Laurie are making sure it fits properly before they begin the extensive work of attaching the huge amount of necessary foam and padding. First I don a cotton onesie that covers me from just below the knees to just past my elbows. This can be washed between each performance, which will make life more pleasant, especially for anyone having to spend time near me. This body can only be washed once a week, since it will take two days to dry. On top of the onesie goes a specially designed vest worn by performers playing characters at theme parks in hot weather. It has four large pockets running top to bottom, two on the front and two on the back. The pockets hold large packs of a special gel. The packs are kept in the freezer between shows, and will go into the vest to keep me from overheating during performances. On top of the onesie and the vest goes the innermost layer of my body. Once I have it on, Laurie measures and pins. When that’s done, she and Amy ask if I want to try on a prosthetic suit that they made for another actor in a different play. It’s about a quarter of the size that my body will become, but they say it should give me a preliminary idea of what it will feel like. They help me into it, and I stand for a few moments, getting a sense of this new bulk and shape. Then the feelings begin to flood in. I sit, and hold back the tears.
There’s has been a flurry of other activity this past two weeks as we gear up to start rehearsal. There’s an audition session where I read with the actors called back for the roles of my daughter, my best friend, and my ex-wife. I am not part of the casting decision process, but the next day I speak with Joanne DeNaut, SCR casting director, to find out the results. The actors cast in each of the three roles were the ones that I would have chosen, so I’m feeling very confident about the team being assembled. In addition I have to keep up with my reading list, which is growing instead of getting smaller. Song of Myself has been added. I’m still working my way through Moby Dickalong with the rest of the material, and on some wild tangent I found myself reading The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner. Don’t ask me why. I also I found time to read the play again, start to finish, in one sitting, since that is how it is supposed to be experienced, all of a piece.