The Catholic University of America

Sept. 12, 2008

Veteran Actors Give Advice to CUA Acting Class

From left: Leisa Mather, Andy Prosky, Robert Prosky and Gary Sloan, CUA associate professor of drama, discuss their acting experiences with Sloan's students.

Instead of performing their own scenes yesterday, about a dozen students in a CUA acting class got a chance to witness four veteran actors rehearse for their own performances in Arthur Miller's play "The Price."

Associate Professor of Drama Gary Sloan brought fellow actors Robert Prosky (who appeared in films such as "The Natural" and "Mrs. Doubtfire" and on the TV series "Hill Street Blues"), his son, Andy Prosky, and Leisa Mather to his Acting I class to rehearse a few scenes of the play, which the foursome will be performing at Vienna's English Theatre in Austria early next year.

In the play Sloan and Andy Prosky play estranged brothers who reunite when they must dispose of their dead parents' property. Mather plays Andy's wife and Robert Prosky plays a wise furniture appraiser.

"The students should see some professional actors doing what they're learning," Sloan said.

"It's like medical students watching someone perform surgery," Robert Prosky added.

Robert Prosky, Sloan and Andy Prosky rehearse a scene from "The Price" in front of Sloan's acting class.
Before the actors began their scenes, the students posed questions to the cast. Andy Prosky described working with and learning from his father. Mather detailed her experience working on musicals such as "Ragtime." Robert Prosky spoke at length about his own experiences in stage and film.

"The main thing is to find out who you are and what your method of work is," he told the students. "The main thing you have to offer is your own individuality."

Robert Prosky, who lives on Capitol Hill, is a veteran of the Washington, D.C., theater scene. He has appeared in several Arena Stage productions, which brought him to CUA once before in 1973 when he was in the cast of Arena Stage's "Our Town."

Before traveling to Russia that year with the "Our Town" cast, Alan Schneider - the play's director and an acting teacher at CUA - brought the actors to campus to stage the play in front of an audience. Prosky remembers meeting Rev. Gilbert V. Hartke, O.P., founder of CUA's Department of Drama.

"I told him my sons wanted to be actors and Father Hartke said, 'Send them to me!' "