In THE WHALE, Scott Greer plays Charlie, a 600-pound man who has beached himself inside his tiny apartment since the death of his partner, tutoring students online, watching gay porn, and eating himself to death. Theatre Exile’s production, which opens tomorrow, presented a LARGE technical problem: how to convey Charlie’s suicidal obesity. Costume designer Alison Roberts designed an elaborate costume weighing in at around 50 pounds. This photo essay, courtesy of Bianne Shaw, demonstrates the costuming process required for each show.
Actor Scott Greer arrives a little early to every performance. His costume takes about an hour to put on.
Specially deigned by costume designer Alison Roberts, the elaborate costume took four weeks to construct. Assistant stage manager Jessica DeStefano (left) and stage manager Melanie Leeds assist Scott with the lengthy costuming process..
In total, the costume weighs about 50 pounds. “I’ve never [worn] anything like it,” Greer told the Philadelphia Daily News‘ Chuck Darrow. “I’ve done shows where I used puppets and stuff. This is like operating a puppet from the inside. That presents a challenge. It’s very heavy and cumbersome. After a couple hours, you feel it.”
The costume includes cooling elements so Scott doesn’t overheat.
The intimate Studio X seating plot will also take an unexpected shape to allow for Scott to have a special dressing room. He will be prisoner to the stage before each show, as the enormity of his costume won’t fit through the aisles or doors of Studio X.
THE WHALE runs runs February 5-March 1, 2015 at Studio X [1340 S. 13th Street] theatreexile.org.