By David Auburn
January 9-31, 2004
Although a brilliant
mathematical proof figures in the play PROOF the
formula for love and understanding is the hardest thing to calculate in David
Auburn’s award-winning drama which continues Carpenter Square Theatre’s 20th
Anniversary Season. PROOF plays January 9-31 at Stage
Center in downtown Oklahoma City.
At the heart of the play is a
father-daughter relationship. When the play opens, we meet Catherine on her 25th
birthday. She has given up her own college education in order to care for her
professor-father, a genius in mathematics who suffered with mental illness for
several years. Now she’s at the crossroads of her haunting past and a blank
Foremost in her mind is the
fear that she has inherited her father’s mental instability. After all, she
inherited his mathematical ability. During this unsettling time, two arrivals
shake up her life even further. The first is Hal, a former student of her
father’s who comes to the house to catalogue her father’s vast collection of
notebooks. A romance between the two quickly ignites.
The second arrival is her
estranged sister Claire who swoops in from Wall Street to tidy up their father’s
affairs, and tidy up Catherine’s life. However, Catherine’s biggest challenge
begins when Hal uncovers a notebook that contains a major mathematical proof
that may or may not have been written by the father.
David Auburn traces the
genesis of PROOF from two ideas: “I started with the
idea of two sisters fighting over something that had been left behind by their
father after his death. I also had been toying with the notion of a character
whose parent had suffered from mental illness and was becoming concerned that
the same thing was happening to her.” While reading several books about science
and math, he learned that a number of famous mathematicians had suffered from
mental illness and “that gave me the link between my two ideas.” Being a
graduate of the University of Chicago, Auburn set the play in Chicago and made
the father a professor there.
For his efforts, Mr. Auburn
garnered numerous “Best Play” awards including: The Pulitzer Prize, the Tony
Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award, the Lucille Lortel Award, the New York
Drama Critics Circle Award and the Drama League Award.