Solve the equation: One dead math genius, plus one dour daughter, multiplied by a budding mathematician and a well-to-do sister, divided by a plot twist or two. The answer materializes into the play “Proof.”
This weekend, the University’s Department of Theater will present “Proof,” a play by David Auburn. “Proof” won the Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 2001. The play will be performed on Oct. 3, 4, 7, 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday, Oct. 5 at 2:30 p.m. in the Inge Theater. Advance tickets are $10 for KU students and $15 at the door. Tickets for adults are $15, $14 for seniors, and $10 for children.
“Proof” is directed by Amanda Boyle, a third-year PhD student from Lenexa. Casey McNamara did the scenic design and the lighting and costume designs were done by Jenifer Harmon. Both are second year Master of Fine Arts in scenography students from Kansas City, Mo.
“Proof” tells the story of Catherine, the 25 year-old daughter of Robert, a recently-deceased mathematical genius. Catherine cared for her father through his debilitating mental illness and believes she may have inherited both his brilliant mathematical mind and mental instability. Hal, one of Robert’s ex-students, discovers a monumental mathematical proof in Robert and Catherine’s house. Catherine then claims she wrote the proof herself, not Robert. The plot plays out as Catherine tries to prove authorship and reclaim control of her life.
Boyle said “Proof” is very realistic in the fact that there’s no real villain or hero, everyone is both good and bad. “When I sum it up, I say (the play) is about relationships, family, mental illness and the line between genius and insanity,” Boyle said.
“Proof” has a cast of only four actors. Boyle said the show has no small roles and that she needed four strong, talented, hardworking students. She feels very lucky to have people that were willing to jump in. Since it’s such a small cast, Jaelyn Glennemeier, a freshman from Rose Hill, said she has gotten to know everyone really well and she enjoys working with them.
To check the accuracy of the play, Boyle brought in professors from the University’s math department. “The way they talked about their passion for their work and the beauty that they find in math is very similar to the way we view theater,” Boyle said. “We often think of math as being very clinical, but it’s not. Talking with them made the play a little more human and real for us.”
— Edited by Drew Parks