The theatre department addressed mental health, fear and loss of a parent in its newest production, “Proof,” which opened Wednesday, Oct. 30.
“Proof,” written by David Auburn, follows a young girl named Catherine. She is dealing with her father’s death as well as her sister trying to force her to move to New York.
The show flashes back to when her father was alive, showing the full extent of his mental illness. Catherine is afraid she will inherit the same mental illness.
Another main character, Hal, was played by theatre education junior Austin Butterfield.
Throughout the show, Hal works tirelessly to uncover something that might have been left behind by Catherine’s dad. The character has no shortage of awkward moments, which Butterfield said was both his favorite and least favorite part.
“I feel those awkward moments,” Butterfield said. “I think those were my favorite parts but also my least favorite parts because this shouldn’t feel as normal as it does.”
The play featured a cast of four characters, making it easy for the actors to bond during rehearsals. Rehearsals ran four nights a week, three hours each session.
“My favorite part was easily working with my costars,” Butterfield said. “We get to be silly and have a lot of fun during the rehearsals, and we make a lot of discoveries together. It’s a really wonderful time.”
The play also hit hard on the characters’ intelligence.
Both Catherine and her dad were mathematicians who solved some of math’s hardest questions.
Butterfield said accurately portraying that facet of the characters was the hardest part.
“All the characters are smarter than we are,” he said. “Trying to make sure that is known was difficult. It’s easy to play someone that’s dumber, but playing someone smarter than you takes a bit more work.”
Butterfield credits the success of the play to their director, David Rzeszutek, who has experience with improv from his time in New York.
“Dave’s a really great director,” Butterfield said. “Dave has a lot of improv experience from New York, and he utilizes that in the rehearsal process to help us nd really genuine and really authentic moments. It feels really good.”
“Proof” will be followed up by “Emilie,” which will run Nov. 22 and 23, and “Home for the Holidays,” which will run Dec. 4-6. Next semester’s theatre productions will include Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.”
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