Saturday, August 17, 2013

TRANSFORMATION VIA MY STACHE FORMATION by Benjamin Ruderman (Dr. Watson)

It all started when I accepted the part of Watson in Tillamook Association for the Performing Arts' production of SHERLOCK’S SECRET LIFE written by Ed Lange.  One of the lines in the play describes Watson's "bushy moustache." I laughed because at 34 years of age I have never been able to grow a respectable moustache, let alone a “bushy” one. I said to the director, "Rob, you're going to have to cut that line. I can't grow a moustache and if we glue one on I'll sweat it off during the performance." Then Samantha Swindler baited me with the most motivational comment, "You’re not growing a Moustache?  Not that dedicated, huh?"

I will perform all manner of stupid in the pursuit of proving my dedication. I believe in live theater as a means of cathartic transformation for communities. When you see a film or a play that is executed well, the message it delivers can change your worldview – can change your life. Thus, I take my commitment to delivering my best performance seriously.

With only 12 weeks left to opening night, I sought the advice of an expert. My brother-in-law Dennis had grown a beard to make Grizzly Adams envious. If anyone could teach me to grow a “bushy mustache”, he could. He quickly accepted the role of beard coach. The advice he gave me was strange: “Grow your hair for a week, and then shave it. Do this four times, and then let it grow.” The advice seemed counter intuitive. It seemed I would be losing four weeks of potential growth following his advice.  I voiced my concerns to my beard coach. Dennis laughed while stroking his magnificent mane of face masking hair. “Are you really going to argue with this?” At that moment I knew he was my Mr. Miyagi. I must do what he told me no matter how insane it sounded.

Immediately, I started growing a goatee. On the seventh day of growth before shaving, I took pictures and sent them to my beard coach. The second week definitely seemed thicker and by the third week’s shave my beard coach replied “Looking good young Jedi.”

The hardest part was the social repercussions that first month of no shaving. During that sad scraggly interim between clean shaven and fully facial haired, some of the comments from friends, coworkers and family were just plain cruel. Were it not for the support of my beard coach and my true friends, I surely would have caved and shaved.


Now just two weeks from the opening night of “Sherlock’s Secret Life”, I shaved the hair off my chin and have acquired a “bushy mustache.” My beard coach may soon be releasing a motivational DVD – “Beard 90X”. While I don’t feel like a different person, when I look in the mirror and see Tom Selleck staring back, I know it was all worth it. 

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