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      I'm playing the role of Robert, the brilliant mathematician in the play PROOF.

      I'm playing the role of Robert, the brilliant mathematician in the play PROOF. Since playing Atticus in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD a number of years ago, I've realized that acting is a wonderful opportunity to grow because we have the chance to walk around in another's skin for a while. As you might remember, Atticus was using that image to help his children try to empathize with the many characters who's lives crossed theirs—particularly characters who were vastly different from themselves. It's been wonderful over the years to climb around in so many fascinating characters and see the world through their eyes.

      I'm finding a new experience in walking around in a mentally unstable man's skin. It's disturbing. It's scary. It's completely new territory. I'm only in three scenes; Robert is different in each one. Robert's daughter is worried that she has inherited some of her father's instability. The two other characters know that Robert is unstable; they suspect—to varying degrees—that Catherine is unstable as well.

      I can't find a reference point for seeing through Robert's eyes. I am grateful for a good script which provides a lot of clues as to how he sees the world—his daughter, his work, his process. He desperately loves Catherine, and wants...needs...to share in the intense glories of working through math problems.

      Mathematics has not been something in which I find intense glory. So I'm exploring/recognizing what offers me intense glory so I can in some way relate to his passion. At one point, Robert explains to Catherine that he can't see the difference in being busy and being happy: “I knew what I wanted to do and I did it.” Hm, I can relate to that.

      I've mentioned A BEAUTIFUL MIND in earlier blogs. And GOOD WILL HUNTING. Brilliant mathematicians, and some serious mental instabilities. I just saw another great movie called GIFTED. A brilliant 7 year old; her mother a brilliant but unstable mathematician...and suicide victim.

      Besides not identifying with the mental instability (some people might disagree) and with the mathematics, I'm finding it foreign to crawl around in brilliance. I played Salieri in AMADEUS a few decades ago; I could identify with him: a good but not brilliant musician who compared himslef against the genius of Mozart. Salieri bemoaned that he was mediocre, and had to face the fact. I'm trying hard to see through the eyes of a brilliant mind and quite obviously am found wanting.

      Robert is a single father in his late 50s. We don't know what happened to his wife. I'm closer to this aspect of his life: I'm a single father in my 60s. This helps to relate a bit; his great desire to be with his daughter.

      We're working through it. Robert keeps telling Catherine that she just has to talk through the problem. Quite frankly, working through the mental instability of this character is exhausting...wearying...and makes me very sad. And I need to remind you that Robert is not the main character; Catherine is.

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