When I was 30 I was in a production of The Dresser by Ronald Harwood. Actually, before that I was in a production of The Dresser when I was 21. The first time I played Irene, a young aspiring actress. But this is a story about my second production, when I played Madge, the lead character’s long-time stage manager.
Harwood’s script does not specify an age for Madge. It is noted that she has been working with (and has had a crush on) Sir for at least 20 years. Based on this, the director and I decided she was at least in her mid-forties. As I mentioned before, I was 30 at the time. That meant I felt the direction was that she was “old.”
Madge was in her mid-forties (a.k.a. “old”) and not supposed to be particularly attractive. (At the time I probably presumed part of that was due to her age.) In preparation for the role I asked my hairdresser to dye my hair a mousy brown. “Something not very flattering.” She laughed and said know one else had ever asked her for such a hair color before.
I remember doing my make-up before each show. I carefully drew dark lines across my forehead, around my eyes, and by my mouth. After all, I had to look really old! Mid-forties! Unattractive! A review of the production called Madge/me “pasty-faced,” so I guess I was successful at least with the unattractive part.
Well, I’m now in my mid-forties. There are definitely more lines on my face than there were when I was 30 but nowhere near as many as I drew on to play Madge. I try to remind myself about that every time I find myself not liking a picture of me (be it a selfie or something with my kids or my husband) due to my visible wrinkles. I’m definitely getting older, but older doesn’t look as bad as I thought it would. Actually, older still looks pretty darn good.
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