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Seeking ‘Proof’ amid madness

Locations: News Published

Theater, theater, theater! As with many art forms, it is pervasive in this Valley. This week, we’re highlighting three local productions with a review and two previews. Following is one of the previews for Thunder River Theatre Company’s (TRTC) upcoming production of “Proof,” opening this Friday, Nov. 18. 

The script was written by David Auburn and, in 2001, “Proof” received the Pulitzer Prize for drama and won the Tony Award for best play. “So, it’s a pretty unusually brilliant script,” Sue Lavin, director of the TRTC production, told The Sopris Sun. 

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“I think there are a lot of surprises for the audience because of how well it’s written,” she added. “There’s a lot of startling information that comes along, so the audience has to pay attention.” 

The setting is in a neighborhood on the south side of Chicago, near the university. The central character, Catherine, is a brilliant mathematician who defers her own education and career to instead move home and take care of her father — also a genius — who slips further and further from sanity. 

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Lavin mentioned a review she had read in the Journal of the American Mathematical Society which considered “Proof” to be the best rendering of the mathematical world and mind — delving into mathematics, genius and madness.

Lavin has been grateful to work with “such a star studded cast,” as she put it. “All of the actors are terrific,” she said. “They’re all experienced and bring a lot to these characters.” 

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Emily Henley plays Catherine, the lead role; Jeff Carlson plays Catherine’s father, Robert; John Hauser plays Hal, Catherine’s love interest and Robert’s protégé; and Allison Fifield plays Claire, Catherine’s concerned sister. 

Serendipitously, when TRTC’s artistic director Missy Moore asked Lavin to direct the play, Lavin recalled seeing it 20 years earlier, when Moore played the role of Catherine and Moore’s own father, Bob Moore, played Robert. 

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Three of the four characters in the play are mathematicians and the idea behind the title, “Proof”, carries a double meaning. While there is a mathematical proof central to the play, Catherine also struggles to trust herself and those around her. Consequently, the audience is left wondering who can be trusted and what a character’s motivations might be. e

“Catherine doubts everyone, and she mostly doubts herself,” explained Lavin. In fact, “I think another name for the play could be ‘Doubt’, but that’s taken,” she joked. 

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Speaking of humor, while the realist play focuses on sincere relationship dynamics and the level of trust between characters, there are some pretty funny moments in the script. 

When asked what she believes the message people will take away from the show will be, Lavin instead replied with a few rhetorical questions. “I think that the question, ‘Who do you trust and how do you learn to trust people?’ is a big question that the play will leave the audience with.” 

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She added, “How do we use our talents to make a difference in the world?” And, “How do we find the courage to stand up for ourselves and what we have to bring to the world?” 

Lavin chose to leave our readers on a note of hope. “We’re all haunted by our doubts and fears. But, if we reach a little further, the opposite of our doubts and fears can be true, too.”

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There are 10 chances to catch this production. The show runs Nov. 18 through Dec. 4, with Friday and Saturday night performances at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. There is one Thursday night performance, Dec. 1, at 7:30 p.m. For tickets, visit www.thunderrivertheatre.com

Tags: #"Proof" #David Auburn #Sue Lavin #Theatre #Thunder River Theatre Company
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