WASHINGTON — Actor Edward Gero has spent a lot of time in court over the past year – the Supreme Court to be exact – watching, studying and listening to one justice in particular, seeing how he behaves.

Justice Antonin Scalia, 79, is one of the court’s most conservative and polarizing characters, and now those qualities are providing the ingredients for a new play. Washington’s Arena Stage is developing “The Originalist” about Scalia with a story delving into some of the biggest issues and court dramas of this era, from gun rights to gay marriage.

The new play, which will run March 19 through April 26, promises a unique mix of politics and entertainment, reflecting arguments Americans wrestle with nationwide. For Gero, it’s about capturing one compelling character while he has the rare opportunity to bring a sitting, political figure to the stage.

Gero shares a natural resemblance with Scalia. He has studied the justice in court, through videos and over lunch in Scalia’s chambers.

“By the end of the hour, I felt like I was just hanging out with Uncle Nino,” Gero said. “I know the behavior.”

Gero said he hopes to capture Scalia’s humor and intelligence, along with his fast-talking style.

“He’s a big man with big ideas,” Gero said. “When he listens, he’ll close and sort of shut down his eyes in order to heighten his sense of listening, and then when he grabs onto something, he launches and there’s a real energy in his upper body. So I’m trying to capture that physically.”

Speaking at an event last month with NPR, Scalia said he doesn’t plan to see a performance and was wary of how he would be portrayed.

“It’s OK; I mean what can they do? They’re going to write what they write,” he said.

Playwright John Strand said he tried to be fair toward Scalia. He hopes audiences will be moved. He wants them to be angry, to argue but also to laugh.

“It was never my intention to do a hatchet job on Antonin Scalia,” he said. “I didn’t set out to offend, but inevitably we will. If we’re really looking into these issues, inevitably we will.”

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