The Fancy Dress Method Actor

illustration by Hannah Willows

by Elliot Grodowski

method actor

           1.     an actor who aspires to complete emotional identification with a part.

His girlfriend thought he was joking when he said he was disappearing to a secluded forest for a month to find some innocent holidaymakers to scare.

“It’s all part of my routine, babe,” he said. “Halloween is a month away.”

“Can’t you just dress up on the day like everybody else?”

“You want me to be like everybody else? Those losers out there who poke two eyeholes in a garbage bag and call themselves a ghost for a few hours. Nuh-uh. No way.”

“I thought we could have a nice morning together,” she said and looked for his eyes. “Carve some pumpkins. Put some candles in them.”

He picked his duffle bag up from the floor and looked towards the front door.

“And we still can,” he said. “I’ll be back before the party.”

“But you’ll be in character.”

His eyes moved back to her. “But my character has a girlfriend that he loves and cares about – it’s all part of my character’s development. He scares innocent people but is good at heart, and it’s his girlfriend who helps him rediscover this about himself.”

“I don’t know, I mean… that does sound nice. But it’s just that the last time we went to a fancy dress party you went as Homer Simpson, and I had to do all the washing up and cleaning for a month beforehand.”

He scoured the aisles of the home store, tapping his fingers against his chin as he looked for everything he would need.

“May I help you, sir?” a store worker said to him, having followed him down the electrical aisle.

“Yes, please,” he said as he turned around. “I’m looking for a chainsaw. Your scariest and loudest one, please.”

“Um, okay. Sure thing,” the store worker said. “We have a few. A red one, a blue one–”

“Do you have one in the colour blood red?”

“Um, I’m not sure.” The store worker scratched the side of their head. “I can check in the back if you want?”

“It’s okay. This red will do. I can always buy some paint and go over it.”

“Hey, do I recognise you from somewhere?” the store worker then said and took a step to the left to get a better look at his face.

“I don’t know. Do you?”

“Yeah, I do – you’re the guy that went as Woody from Toy Story to Angela’s party last May. Yeah, that’s right. It’s you. You spent the whole night sat on an armchair pretending to be a toy whenever a human came into the room. Incredible, man. Don’t know how you do it.”

“Oh yeah. That might have been me. How embarrassing to be spotted! Totally blushing now.”

“No, no – not at all. I love your work, man. Keep doing what you’re doing. You know what, I’ll throw in a tin of that blood red paint you’re after with this chainsaw. I’ll just double check we have some.”

The store worker pulled his phone out and tapped away on the screen, browsing the app of the store catalogue.

“Thanks,” he said to the store worker. “That’s very kind. Want to know what I’m going as this Halloween?”

“No, no – don’t tell me. It’s John’s party you’re going to, right?”

“That’s right, yeah.”

“Thought so. I’ll see you there. Looking forward to it,” the store worker told him.

“Good point. It’ll be a better surprise that way.”

“Shoot, we’re out of that paint. We might have some more stock coming in tomorrow. If you’re free then?”

“Okay, yeah. I’ll maybe pop by.”

“Brilliant,” the store worker said, putting their phone back in their pocket. “So you know, though; I won’t be here. But you can ask for my colleague, Al. I’m going away this weekend you see. A nice peaceful, secluded forest about ten miles from here. Should be lovely. Just me and my family.”

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