The Sugar Syndrome, the show I am producing as well as acting in is what I like to call a spine punch play. Billed by Playscripts as a "dark comedy" some of its running themes include pedophilia, bulimia and sex addiction. We began rehearsals this week and my rock star director lived up to all expectations. This woman shies away from nothing. We are digging in, around, inside and under every addiction and psychosis these characters have. On the day we looked at pedophilia, I went home and cried for an hour.
The character I am playing is a 17 year old bulimic who has spent time in a clinic for her disorder. In the script itself, I know that she spends huge amounts of time on her computer chatting, so one thing I am recreating is her chats. Another big piece of her puzzle is the 'Thinspiration' book she carries around with her. This is a notebook full of magazine clippings that she finds of idea body type. I had no idea, but having something like this isn't rare for people with eating disorders. There is a huge focus of part over whole-- these calves, this shoulder, this neck versus this body. It's as if there is no "perfect" body, only perfect pieces-- so the person with the disorder herself can never really reach her goal. its doesn't exist.
Keeping this book has been so helpful in shaping her view of the world. The things that I pay attention too when Im talking to someone are far different when my focus is always on what is lean or good or bad.
Simply keeping the Thinspiration book has heightened my awareness of food, and changed my relationship with it. I have a good friend who went through a serious bout of Bulimia in college and she describes her relationship to food as being similar to a recovering drug addicts relationship to drugs. If someone who has given up coke walks into a room where there is a big, 'Scarface' pile of cocaine on the table, it changes how they move, they think, where they look, everything. That is the same thing as a bulimic walking into a room with a cake.
Getting into the psychological nitty gritty of this stuff is certainly taking its toll, but I am hoping it is well worth it come performance time.