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Proof Positive

Jess Shaffer | Thursday, March 18, 2010

This Friday and Saturday Notre Dame students will be staging David Auburn’s play, “Proof.” The production is directed, produced and acted by Notre Dame students.
 

The play follows Catherine, a 25 year-old struggling with the recent death of her beloved father. Catherine’s late father is renowned as a brilliant mathematician, who had a profound effect on academia. On a personal level, Catherine shares her father’s love of math, which was the source of their tight bond. Inspired by her father’s brilliant mind, she remained close with him, acting as his caretaker, even in his final year. But before his death, Catherine witnessed the sad loss of her father’s intellect and his descent into madness. Struggling to deal with the loss, Catherine’s own sanity is thrown into question. Her sister is convinced that Catherine has indeed lost her mind.
 

These stressed family dynamics are exacerbated when an eager graduate student discovers a lost, but genius, mathematical proof. The play tries to answer the question of the proof’s authorship. Did Catherine’s late father have a moment of lucidity in his final years of madness? Is the genius proof in fact his? Or is Catherine herself responsible for the mathematical piece as she claims?
 

Dealing with themes of intellectual property, academic inspiration, madness, loss and family relationships, “Proof” elegantly approaches sensitive issues in Catherine’s life. Still, the same themes appeal to the audience’s own experiences as well. Perhaps this is why Auburn’s play has won many awards, including a Tony award and Pulitzer Prize. The play first was staged on Broadway, starring Mary-Louise Parker and Larry Bryggmann. After its Broadway success, it was adapted into a film in 2005, featuring Gwyneth Paltrow, Anthony Hopkins and Jake Gyllenhaal.
 

Notre Dame’s production will star Julie Halloran, Chris Stare, Bobby Reichle and Courtney Cox. It is directed by Carolyn Demanelis and produced by Tom Blanford, Robert Jenista and Brenna Williams.
 

The cast and crew bring the story to life on a smaller scale for the Notre Dame audience, as the play will be enacted in the intimate setting of Washington Hall’s Lab Theatre.
This close setting is ideal for a play that handles the sensitive issues that both its character’s and its audience struggle with. Questions of honesty, family dynamics and intellectual inspiration will certainly hit home for many student audience members.
The zeal of the cast coupled with the intimacy of the production will certainly make the piece even more relatable here at Notre Dame.
 

As Courtney Cox, a cast member and Scene writer, said: “I personally find the play so great because it is very real. There’s something about each character that is easy to relate to. I think the audience will see the same thing as well. It’s a very emotionally touching piece and I’m sure the audience will appreciate the depth of each character’s struggle.”
The student production will be showing in Washington Hall’s Lab Theatre. Tickets are $3 for students and $5 for adults. General seating is available at the door.

Contact Jess Shaffer at jshaffe1@nd.edu