Monday, March 1, 2010

Robert Prosky

You might not know the name, but you certainly know the actor. Robert Prosky is one of those actors whose career I have always respected... and coveted. First of all, he was a gifted actor. Second, most people would not recognize him if they bumped into him in the produce aisle. Some might do a double take thinking he was a distant uncle or former school teacher. If you were to ask me to "type" him, I guess I would say he is like a softer version of Ed Asner. He generates the same power with less bombast. 

Prosky died in 2008 at the age of 77. He was an actor that did everything: Stage, films, television. "Either for tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral, scene individable, or poem unlimited: Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor Plautus too light." I had the pleasure of seeing him in A Walk in the Woods. Sometime ago Actors' Equity sent the following Robert Prosky missive in the mail to all its members. (I came across it while catching up on some filing I promised my wife I would get around to back in 2009.) I have shared it just as Equity had sent. I'll bet the capital "A' in Actor was Prosky's.

"I love Actors and by extension, the theater. I love the minutia that surrounds them both. I love listening and telling Green Room war stories. I love the onstage triumphs and yes, I love even the disasters. I love the adrenaline that shoots thru every Actor onstage when something goes wrong, and the relief that sweeps thru when some heroic Actor saves the day. I love performance. That time when the human beings on stage interact with the human beings in the audience and together they create the event of performance. It's one of life's most civilized experiences.

It has been said that an Actor must have the hide of a rhinoceros, the courage and audacity of a lion, and most importantly, the fragile vulnerability of an egg. It also has been said, and I'm not sure by whom, that the moment of not knowing is the moment that has the greatest potential for creativity. The professional and private lives of most Actors are filled to the brim with moments of not knowing. Actors are survivors and will continue to strive because they have the need to celebrate, in performance, that sacred communion between Actor and audience."