Jim's Richard III Blog

What had started as a blog of Richard III rehearsal process at Cal Shakes has now evolved or devolved into a small novella. The author is petrified to change the name for fear it'll disappear, and wouldn't know what to call it anyway. Many stories are included and questions are even answered sometimes!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Why I Let My Hair Grow So Long And Skanky

In my continuing saga of What Jim Has Been Doing The Last Year Since He Doesn't Have Much To Talk About Rehearsal-wise................

Ah. Hair. Hair And The Actor. Hair and ME. A small confession:
I have never liked my hair. It doesn't DO anything. It's very fine and totally straight and hence the only "styles" I've ever been able to achieve are akin to the look of a wheat field flattened to the right, left or straight back. Oh, to have hair like Dan Hiatt-- Oh! To wear a graying top of magnificently tumbled yet somehow perfectly styled locks. Dan doesn't worry about his hair.
And Dan is Cruel. Dan knows I covet his hair--he'll wait till I've spent 15 minutes on mine then he'll just look in the mirror, smile mildly, drags a few fingers through it and whap! Perfect. I hate Dan.

So. Because I hate my hair so much I have to make it just right when I get into makeup--bad hair can ruin my entire show. Some of this exactitude can be explained perhaps by my growing up in a Military family; my father was a full Colonel and was always well groomed and trimmed and on trying to impart those same values to me I was found wanting. I discovered that "forgetting" to comb my hair was a rebellion I could escape without repercussions--an illusion my father dispelled by giving me a buzz cut--as I happened to have hiccups at the time the finished product had a sort of punk look to it. Yet more hair shame. By my next series of rebellions I was into College, hooked on Theater, out of the 1960's, going into the 70's and just let it grow Daddy-O! Finally my hair and I were free, free, free and just itching (ewww) to express ourselves!

Now at this stage in my life (19 years old-ish) I decide it's time for a new look--I've gotten all my clothes from the PX on the Military base, and wear plaid flair bottom pants, short sleeve shirts, have big thick black rimmed glasses and am just the spittin' image of: A. Big. Dork.

I dump the plaid flairs and go for jeans, tee shirts and cool hippie-like stuff. I let my hair get down to my shoulders. I coax the feeble growth on my face into something resembling a patchy Van Dyke beard, keep the big thick, black rimmed glasses and the resultant image is: A. Big. Hippie. Dork. I will enclose a wedding picture at a later date as proof if the wife allows it And you may feel free to guffaw just don't rub it in, OK?

Eventually, I give way to hair despair. It just looks better shorter. I cut it short, move to the West Coast, eventually become a professional actor and discover to my horror: My hair is no longer my own. It is the theatre's hair. Now there are "hair clauses" on the riders to my contract--they can chop it, dye it, curl it, twist it, braid it and gel it as they wish....now once again I'm bound and the rebel in me longs to burst forth! I wait for opportunities to grow my hair really long and escape the "straight man, a possible cop, could be a King, maybe a Nazi" niche I've felt my casting slide toward............I find opportunities here and there--you always need it longer in the summers for the Shakespeare season, and it got really long in Mad Forest at Berkeley Repertory Theatre but then stays mostly boringly short until I close Masterbuilder at the Aurora Theatre and the unusual happens--I do a whole year of shows and don't have to cut my hair. Heh, heh, heh. Rebellion......

It was a lean year after Masterbuilder, role-wise; two understudy contracts at ACT, and a series of small (but fun) roles at Cal Shakes. And though Christmas Carol bookended the year well, I was now not only really hairy, but really hungry for some actor food--for one of those roles that you can root around in--just get inside that sucker and stomp around, and bend the rules a bit. And at this juncture in my life I'm offered the role of Stanley Webber in Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party to be done at The Aurora Theatre.

Coming up: Part II or, What A Swell Party It Was..................


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for your blog and for your descriptions of an actor's life and how a show comes together. Does a production evolve with time or is it pretty much fixed after the previews?

I really enjoyed the Birthday Party especially since it was at the Aurora with it's intimate space - "intimate" sounds odd to me but I can't come up with a better word to describe the connection I feel when I experience a play there. Does the close proximity to the audience affect actors' performances?

I know you're busy so feel free not to answering these no-doubt often asked questions.

May 29, 2007 at 11:32 PM  

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