Ever struggle in algebra class secretly wishing that you were a mathematical genius? In the end your success, if any, was probably because of hard work. As inventor Thomas Edison said: “Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” It was true in Edison’s Menlo Park laboratory and it’s demonstrated elegantly in the current Buffalo Laboratory Theatre’s revival of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning play PROOF by American playwright David Auburn. Currently up at Shea’s 710 Main Theatre (the old Studio Arena Theatre where PROOF was last seen in 2004) it turns out that those good reviews they are getting are due to hard work and preparation.
If you remember watching Disney’s PINOCCHIO you may recall the lyrics: “Hi-diddle-dee / An actor’s life for me / It’s great to be a celebrity / An actor’s life for me.”
It might look easy, but it’s always good to pull back the curtain, and find out how much preparation and planning are actually involved.
In a conversation with Buffalo actor Marissa Biondolillo, who plays “Catherine,” she explained the lengthy process that brought PROOF from conversations with all four actors around a table with their director, Katie White, to rehearsals on the Hilbert College stage taped up to show the dimensions of 710 Main (the old Studio Arena) stage, to, finally, on-stage rehearsals.
Along the way, each character was encouraged to develop a “back story” invented to fully inform the actor’s role.. It turns out that Biondolillo is a student of the “Meisner Technique” which she learned after college by attending The Actor’s Workshop in Ithaca, NY, where the motto is “Living Truthfully in Imaginary Circumstances.” The Meisner technique is often confused with “method” acting as taught by Lee Strasberg, since both grew from the work of Constantin Stanislavski. For an example of “method” (which older audiences might associate with Marlon Brando) Biondolillo mentioned the actor Daniel Day Lewis on the set of the movie LINCOLN where Lewis stayed 100% in character, and could only be addressed, even during breaks, as “Mr. Lincoln.” Meisner actors are encouraged to understand their character, then to relax, and let that character speak naturally.
It’s a lot of work for only six performances, with only three left this weekend, tonight and Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, April 2, at 2:00 p.m. at Shea’s 710 Main Theatre (Main at Tupper in downtown Buffalo’s Theatre District). Get your tickets at the door, or call 1-800-745-3000, or visit www.sheas.org/710main.