BY ADINA LEVINE
2L Taylor Dasher Plays Harold Dobbs, a Mathematical Geek Drawn to Catharine But Also Out to Further His Own Career.
Q: What is it you like about acting?
I really like the creative process. As an actor, you get to help create a character. Generally (and hopefully), the writer has already given decent guidance as to what the character is like, but as an actor you get to flesh it out into three-dimensions. There’s only so much you can do with words on a page. The tone of the character’s voice, his expressions, his gestures, his body language, and his walk are all means of communicating a character that are left as the responsibility of the actor. There are always multiple directions you can take a line or written character, and you have to figure out what works and bring it to life. And it’s fun for a lot of the same reasons most of used to “play pretend” when we were younger. I guess some folks never altogether outgrow it.
Also, I have an unbelievable amount of fun with live performances. I’m always a little nervous, but it’s kind of a rush when you have an audience with whom you’re sharing your work.
Q: How much do you feel that acting relates to law?
I talked to a number of lawyers during the OCI process who did feel that being in a courtroom was much like a performance. An effective lawyer uses the same nonverbal communication techniques an actor employs. A great speaker not only influences you with what he says, but also how he says it. Also, this one’s kind of a stretch, but I just thought of it, acting involves analyzing a text and trying to come up with a way to reconcile different parts of it. You’re working with a much more human element as opposed to an intensely analytical one, but it’s basically the same thing people do when they try to find a general rule in case law.
Q: Did you find that acting Proof was significantly different than any of your other plays?
Proof was different in that had the smallest cast of any show I’ve done. Big casts are a lot of fun. There’s a big team dynamic to them and they tend to be a little more social. Smaller casts are great too though because it generally means you really have the opportunity for greater development in relationships between characters. In plays with bigger casts, you may only have a few lines to any particular character and a lot of your lines may be addressed to a group, which is not true of plays written for a smaller number of characters.
Q: Did you find the content of Proof particularly appealing or interesting?
The mathematical content of the show makes it a little different. I’ve only taken one math class since high school, and it was only because it was required, but it’s sort of refreshing to use mathematics as a topic matter in a play. I think the script also does a good job of creating tension between what the audience wants to believe and what it thinks may be true.
Q: What is your favorite part of the play?
Perhaps not coincidentally, my favorite scene is one I’m not in. It’s the scene between Robert and Catherine where we really find out who wrote the proof. From the start of the action, you know it’s not going to turn out the way you want, but the author does a good job of giving you just enough that you still have hope. It’s a moving scene because you really get a sense of what it would be like to be in the position of one of the characters.
Q: How much do you identify with the character that you play?
My character is a pretty nice guy who drops the ball when he gives too much credit to his own logic and not enough to the lady with whom he’s in a relationship. He’s not a chauvinist or anything. It’s just that he errs by letting reason absolutely dominate over emotion, trust, and other more touchy-feely things. I think a lot of guys have been there, done that, and rued the day they did, which is pretty much exactly what happens to Hal. Also, he’s kind of a geek, which is completely, utterly, and totally the polar opposite of one such as myself. *cough, cough*
Q: Do you find it difficult to act out romance or is it the same as just acting out any other emotion?
Acting out romance isn’t quite the same as acting out other emotions. Being angry, happy, sad, or depressed are not really embarrassing, but having a thing for someone certainly can be. But the embarrassment of that goes away once you’re comfortably inside the character. I can’t, however, say quite the same thing for when the script calls for the romance to be physically acted out with a kiss. I become conscious of the fact that while it may be the character planting a wet one on someone, he’s using my lips to do it. I get a little self-conscious and I’m always a little worried about how long to hold the kiss. I don’t want it look abrupt, but I don’t want my fellow cast member to think I’m trying to get fresh either.