Day in the life of a Zombie

As Shaun Pearson slinks down Winslow Way on his way to the barbershop, people can’t help but stare. The man is well-dressed, sporting a button-down shirt and tie with a gray vest and matching slacks. And he’s well-mannered, greeting anyone who makes eye contact with him.

But wherever Pearson goes he catches the eyes of passersby. On this day, the 24-year old South African isn’t wandering the streets as a teacher for Bainbridge Performing Arts, he’s a member of the walking undead; a zombie.

“I’m not your garden variety zombie, but your neighborhood friendly zombie,” he said.

Pearson is preparing for his first Halloween, and undergoing the transformation into a zombie has gotten him that much more excited.

Pearson’s costume, which consisted of dress clothes and a basic makeup kit, cost a grand total of $10, said BPA Artistic Director Steven Fogell, who took less than 30 minutes to transform Pearson.

Pearson’s “crossing over” demonstrates the cost-effective and creative potential in Halloween costumes.

Without a typical Halloween store in the area, islanders have had to use creativity in creating scary, funny and clever costumes each year.

Fogell said people should use every available resource when searching for potential costume ideas.

“The undead can be wearing anything,” Fogell said. “Borrow clothes from friends or parents; think outside the box.”

For Pearson, getting into costume for his Halloween debut won’t be much of a stretch. Pearson is an accomplished actor who is playing Peter Pan in the BPA production of J.M. Barrie’s classic story.

Pearson said he approached his Halloween dress rehearsal just like he would a character in a play.

“Everyone always notices the little details; either he’s got a twitch or a limp,” he said. “I like to focus on the little details.”

Pearson’s zombie also has a back story and a personality.

Pearson said his zombie is a vegetarian. And while he is undead, that doesn’t mean he wants to lose his place in society. Pearson’s zombie is a snappy dresser, he keeps in shape and makes sure he stays up on his reading.

“He wants to have a zombie wife, maybe a little zombie dog,” he said. “Zombies have feelings too. I want to still be accepted into social society.”

Pearson never got to celebrate Halloween in South Africa. Many regions have similar celebrations, such as All Saints Day in Europe or Dia de Los Muertos in South America, but South Africa lacks a day in that vein.

Pearson said the closest thing he’s ever gotten to Halloween was a couple of costume parties at nightclubs. This instilled in him even more zeal for his zombie role.

As he walked through the streets of Winslow, Pearson’s zombie got a number of reactions. Most onlookers simply stared, others engaged the undead man, and a few were a little frightened. But most enjoyed the friendly and engaging character Pearson created.

Pearson, who began the day unsure what he would be for his first Halloween, said he will probably recreate the character. The deep backstory Pearson gave to his zombie showed how the character makes the costume. People will respect and enjoy any costume someone creates as long as enough work is put into it, he said.

“If I just put on a mark or something, people will say, ‘I can do that.’”

Pearson took the $10 worth of makeup and ran with it. As he slowly sauntered down the street, Pearson carried with him a perplexed, contorted facial expression, that quickly morphed from observant, to friendly whenever someone walked by.

Of all the activities on Halloween, Pearson is most looking forward to trick-or-treating for the first time. Though likely a little mature for the annual children’s tradition, he said his girlfriend wants to show him all the things he has missed by not being involved previously in one of this country’s strangest holidays.

“Maybe they’ll feel sorry for me and give me some candy,” he said.

Staff Photos by Brad Camp

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