I met David Proval in Hollywood around 1970. He was a very friendly guy and people liked him. He also had a reputation as being a very fine actor. He invited me to join a group that Jon Voight had organized at the Eric Morris studio on Fountain Avenue. The group met once a week to do repetition exercises. Jon was the leader. He had created a very effective repetition exercise that had astonishing results.
The level of talent in the group was amazing. Jon Voight, Terry Garr, David Proval, Richard Romanus, Harry Northup, Alan Garfield, Tony Basil and David Soul. Something was brewing in that tiny space and it paid off big when Martin Scorsese decided to cast David Proval, Richard Romanus and Harry Northup in Mean Streets. It was a breakthrough film for all involved, including Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel. That was 1973.
In 1974, I was teaching an acting class comprised of Vietnam Veterans. We started working on The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel by David Rabe. This is a play about Vietnam. What could be more apropos for these guys? They had lived it and I was hell-bent on doing a production. I wanted to take this out of the classroom and onto a public stage. When I approached David to play Pavlo Hummel things started to happen. He spoke to Jon Voight and Jon came onboard as a producer. Soon we were rehearsing at the Inner City Cultural Center in downtown Los Angeles.
The cast included Brion James, Tom Bower, Demitch Davis, Tim Thomerson and Maza Hassan. The play was electrifying and the reviews were over the top. The L.A Times said, “Proval’s performance is all the more moving in that it’s absolutely sincere.” David went on to have an amazing career, appearing in over one hundred film and television productions. He played Richie Aprile in The Sopranos, Snooze in The Shawshank Redemption and Sigfried in Four Rooms. I am a great believer in synchronicity. I know that meeting David Proval was meant to happen. I owe a lot to David and I am proud to be his friend.
Until, next time.