I showed up at auditions having done my due diligence. There have been references in the past to Richards’s unique audition style and having been part of that before I had a pretty good idea what I was in for. Don’t worry about a monologue, and probably no reading, but you should go in with a good idea of what the story is about and be able to discuss the characters. So having read the novel and rewatched the film I was ready for a discussion. I felt much more at ease this time having worked with Richard before and knowing his expectations. In addition to the fact that this will be my fifth show in the past 12 months and Richard has seen all of them, I feel he probably knows me as an actor better than I know myself.
Richard asked me where I saw myself, and I mentioned a character or two. Then he asked me about some other characters and my take on them. Would I be open to them? And at the end of the day, I left myself open and said, “Richard put me where you think would be best. I just want to be in this show, and I trust you may see me someplace I haven’t even thought about and I would welcome that opportunity.”
Well, he put me someplace I hadn’t thought about. I was trying to think about which “crazy” guy he might cast me as, if any, as the talent that walked through the doors for auditions was off the charts, and when I got the call, I was offered Dr. Spivey. I thought wow, I hadn’t even thought about him. I don’t even have to be crazy.
While Spivey only appears in a few scenes there is a noticeable transformation in who this man is in just those limited moments. When he is first seen he is a shell of a man just trying to do what he must in order to make it through another day. He most likely went into this field to help people, but as so often happens with many of us over time, our ideals get beaten down over years of rejections, frustrations, and others stomping on them that we eventually become jaded and cynical and it’s just easier to conform to the system.
But then this new patient arrives. A patient who teaches those he encounters to ask, “why?” Why does it have to be this way? And while he has an impact on the other patients, he also has an impact on the doctor. Why does it have to be this way? And not only does it NOT have to be this way, but the doctor finds that he has a sliver of power. The ability to say, “No" and to try and do something about it. To reach back down and find the ideals and the reason as to “why” he decided to do what he does in the first place. To try and make lives better for those who are living an isolated and lonely existence. To make that more bearable, and maybe even move past it. Spivey wins some skirmishes. But he still probably loses the battle. If there were a sequel to this book, I imagine a transformed Spivey who continues to battle on. Instead of shrinking to the system with a weak. “Oh, certainly” and just sitting down.
William Athow plays Dr. Spivey