By Troy Aubut
“Proof” proved to be an excellent play that college students can relate to and enjoy at the same time. Victoria O’Leary, senior theater and communications double major, directed the play as a part of her senior capstone project and Dr. Malone, associate professor of theater, helped obtain the rights to the play.
“Preparations for the play started back in October. Directing the show during the last two weeks was one of the easier parts because everything was mostly done. That was also the most difficult part because we didn’t have as much freedom to make changes. The only thing I would have done differently would be casting the show sooner.” O’Leary said.
“Proof”was written by playwright David Auburn and first premiered in 2000. It won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a Tony Award for Best Play. O’Leary read the play in high school and chose this play in particular with VWC in mind, since the characters happen to be people in their mid 20’s experiencing life at their prime.
Some of the common and relevant themes present in this play are strained family relationships, blossoming love, a perspective on mathematics not normally seen and ultimately proving yourself. All of the themes blended together to make the play an emotional roller coaster, with scenes full of happy highs and gloomy lows that drew on a plethora of emotions from the audience.
The plot centered on a mathematically gifted family. Robert (Douglas Hardman) was a genius mathematician and the father of Catherine (Nel Li Hart) and Claire (Isis Percell). The audience learned Robert passed away just a week before the first scene took place, leaving Catherine depressed and lonely in the family house in Chicago. Claire came over from New York for the funeral, which coincidentally fell on Catherine’s birthday, and the two sisters caught up with each other after a few years of not talking. Claire expressed concern for her sister’s wellbeing, especially after all that occurred and wanted to take care of her exhausted, selfless sister in New York.
It was clear Catherine loved her father deeply and sacrificed an important time of her life to take care of him; however, she was concerned that she would turn out to be just like her father, who happened to be suffering from a mental illness just before he passed. Meanwhile, as the sisters discussed how to handle the situation, Hal (Charles Robinson), a student who worked closely with Robert, was trying his best to find a work of Robert’s that could be published. He was also trying his best to express his feelings for Catherine, even though he wasn’t the timeliest.
When a notebook was found containing a ground-breaking mathematical proof, it was up to Catherine to ascertain she’s the one who wrote it, not her father. However, with little evidence present and the lack of support from her sister and love interest, Catherine was left alone once again. Fortunately for her, everything worked out in the end with the help of Hal.
All of the scenes transitioned smoothly into the next; the flashbacks explain why certain things happened, which lead up to the events occurring in present-day in the play. Everything was tied together, and there was a great feeling of satisfaction knowing that nothing important was left out.
The stage itself was set up in an L shape, allowing the audience on either side to have a good view and hear everything in the small College Studio Theatre.
“Stage setup was difficult. The stage has changed multiple times and we kept searching for the best options. This setup proved to be the best in the end,” O’Leary said.
Isis Percell, senior international studies major, was glad with how the play turned out. “The whole play was a wonderful experience. It took a lot of time and bookwork to create my character and prepare for the play, but the time I had with everyone was fun and was what I enjoyed the most, and ending all of this was bittersweet.” Percell said.
If you happened to miss out on this play, there are many more plays upcoming. Check out VWC Arts on the college website at vwc.edu for more information regarding dates and times.