In Part Two of a series of interviews with the cast of Proof at 1st Stage, meet Liz Osborn.
Joel: Please introduce yourself and tell our readers where they may have seen you perform before on our local stages.
I was last seen locally as Jennifer Schwartz in One in the Chamber, a show I produced last summer at the Mead Theatre Lab.
Why did you want to become a member of the cast of Proof?
It is such an iconic, contemporary play so that was very appealing to me. I tend to love new work, but it is always interesting to go back to pieces that have been produced and studied a lot and mine for new revelations and new things to say. Also, 1st Stage has an amazing reputation (with good reason) and I was eager to work with them
Who do you play in the show and how do you relate to this character?
I play Claire. And while I have been told she is the character that most audiences find very unsympathetic, upon first read, I didn’t see that about her at all – so I guess that was a very easy way I related to her instantly. For readers who are not familiar with “Proof“, this is a challenging question to answer without either giving too much away, or needing too much backstory to understand – so come see the show and ask me about it after!
Did you bring any personal experiences to your performance and if so- what were they and how did they help you to understand and relate to your character?
I can relate completely to the challenges families present at times. If there is anyone out there that can’t, I would love to pick YOUR brain. Claire and I think about situations very similarly – we approach situations from a practical place, and can seem a little harsh (perhaps) when all of our decisions are coming from a place of love and a desire to help and support.
What were some of the challenges you faced while learning your role and how did Director Alex Levy help you with these challenges?
There are some missing pieces in the play (like an explanation of who the mom was, for example) that I think would have enlightened our backstories and would have helped to explain Claire and Catherine’s relationship before the first scene better. I so wanted that information, but it didn’t exist. So Alex (and the whole amazing cast) did a really good job of asking the questions to help us fill in some of those holes for ourselves. He is a super supportive and meticulous director, and allowed for the rehearsal space to be FILLED with trial and error and playing. He would ask just the right question to help us get to where we needed to go without fully suggesting it or telling us to just “do it this way” or “think about it this way”. Every actor in town should hope they get the chance to work with Alex. He is really wonderful.
What does Proof have to say to today’s audiences?
It is, ultimately, a family drama. Unless the complexities in the relationships between family members changes over time (HA!), I think Proof will remain in the theatrical cannon for a VERY long time. It also asks wonderful questions about the nature of proof…in this day and age, where you can google anything and get the answers to life’s questions in 3 seconds, how does one actually prove something? I think in many ways, this is a more interesting question to tackle in the information age.
What do you admire most about your fellow cast members’ performances?
This was such a wonderful, respectful, professional, talented, and easy group to work with. Honestly, everyone got along so well. I respected their insight and wisdom in the scenes or moments I was struggling with, and I learned so much by watching them work through their scenes. Each actor was really curious about their characters – in that way, we blended as a cast immediately. We all had lots of questions and wanted to work through moments again and again. I think the end result of this is an incredibly natural and specific performances from each of these wonderful actors. This was a perfectly cast show (in my opinion).
Which character is most like you and why and how?
I am definitely most like Claire. She’s got a little east-coast sass, she is a take-charge kind of person, and she understands responsibility.
What are your favorite lines that you recite and your favorite lines that other characters recite in Proof? And why?
My favorite line (that I have) is about bagels (once again, come see the show to see what I am talking about) – and that is because I love bagels and it is such a thing in my family so it makes me laugh every time. I also love Catherine’s line: in response to a question about how she feels, she responds with a snarky response about her hair. I think this is not only a funny line, but a line that represents who Catherine is and how she handles confrontation so perfectly.
Where are you appearing next on the stage after Proof ends its run?
Nothing lined up yet, so if you know of anyone looking…!
What do you want audiences members to take away with them after seeing you perform in Proof?
“Hot damn, that was some good theatre-going!”
Running Time: Two and a half hours, with one 15-minute intermission.
Meet the Cast of 1st Stage’s ‘Proof’: Part 1: Sam Ludwig by Joel Markowitz.
Michael Poandl’s review of Proof on DCMetroTheaterArts.