“Don’t make me do this, Harold,” Ms. Skinner said.
“Just be irrational, idiotic, moronic,” he told her. “Do it. Do it. Come on.”
After Ms. Skinner read Sonya’s lines — about how she was not pretty — tears ran down her face.
“That’s what you want to find,” Mr. Guskin said. “How crazy is she? It just gets you in a place where you have control over your rage.”
Harold Saul Guskin was born on May 25, 1941, in Brooklyn, and moved with his family to Asbury Park, N.J., as a teenager. His father, David, sold restaurant supplies, and his mother, Frances (Midler) Guskin, was a homemaker.
Mr. Guskin began playing the trombone in high school and played professionally while attending the Manhattan School of Music. But his passion for music faded, replaced by a fascination with theater. He attended Broadway and Off Broadway plays. He began attending acting classes. He studied drama at Rutgers University, where he received a bachelor’s degree, then earned a master’s from Indiana University, where he was an artist in residence at the Indiana Theater Company, a touring theater group affiliated with the school’s graduate drama studies program.
Mr. Kline was an undergraduate at Indiana, acting with the Vest Pocket Players, a coffeehouse troupe, which the group asked Mr. Guskin to join.
“After an hour, it was obvious he had to be our leader,” Mr. Kline said in a telephone interview. “It was obvious that he knew more than we did. And he had this innate wisdom.”
Feeling comfortable with Mr. Guskin’s guidance, Mr. Kline asked him how he should deliver a line from Maxwell Anderson’s play “The Wingless Victory,” which he was performing at the campus theater.