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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Finding my Manhood

  • Author(s): Blanck, Kimberly Yu
  • Advisor(s): Wallace, Gregory
  • et al.

Usually when I'm given a role, I've already imagined myself playing the part. I can see myself in the costume, floating across the stage, saying the lines. I think about what it all could look like and follow through with what my imagination serves up for me. But for Eddie Fuseli, I could not picture it. I couldn't picture my woman's body, my woman's voice and my woman's demeanor repackaged into a dead-faced, chain-smoking, catlike Italian gangster. The prospect of morphing into Eddie seemed impossible. I was terrified. I dreaded starting rehearsal - everyone would see how pathetic, how clueless, how ridiculous I was in attempting to play this part.

Rehearsals did start and indeed, they were painful. Eddie's lines would come out of my mouth and instantly I'd feel ashamed. Everything felt wrong. I didn't sound like a man. I didn't look like a man. Completely lost, I pressed delete on everything I was working on and returned to the basics. To the breaking down of the body that we learned in Charlie's class. How does this man walk? To the archetypes. How high status is he? To the essential movements. How does he put his hand in his pocket? Slowly, I began to build Eddie using different parts of my body. As my corporal decisions became clearer, the manliness that I thought I'd never have began to emerge. And after that came the authority. The confidence. The nasal Italian drawl. Even some other surprising qualities began to surface: my Eddie was quick. Slick. Sharp. Though at the beginning I wasn't able to picture the final product, he managed to materialize through the structure I created with my own body, the same one I was convinced would fail me. It's empowering knowing that my body is always here for me in this art, and that it can change shape in ways I cannot even imagine.

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