Solving a mystery: Genius behind ‘Proof’ to be revealed

January 31, 2018 | Arts, Events, UToday, Arts and Letters
By Angela Riddel

The University of Toledo Department of Theatre and Film will present David Auburn’s Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play, “Proof,” Friday through Sunday, Feb. 2-4 and 9-11, in the Center for Performing Arts Center Theatre.

Performance times are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

It will be directed by Dr. Matt Foss, who joined the department as an assistant professor of theatre in August. The play marks his first production at UT.

Foss said he is excited about the future of UT’s theatre program.

“The growing conversation of how we want to contribute to the excellent storytelling in our city and region, and through things like the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival or our study abroad trips to Italy and the Moscow Art Theatre, are incredibly exciting,” he said. “With ‘Proof,’ we were lucky to have collaborators from across the community: a local professional actor, as well as a high school student committed and interested in the theatre, working hand in hand with our UT students. I think it is a really exciting time for UT theatre, and I’m grateful to be a part of it.”

Foss is familiar with the setting for “Proof.”

“I cut my teeth in Chicago and was there when this play first came on the scene. I remember walking through the streets and bookstores and around the neighborhood where the play is set,” he said. “I used a piece from the play for auditions when I was working as a professional actor in the city.”

He added there is good reason why this play has been so celebrated.

“The play has been popular since its premiere and winning the Pulitzer in 2001. It is an interesting moment to revisit it. The young woman at the heart of the play is navigating a difficult time. Her beloved, but troubled father has just passed, and she is facing the possibility of what parts of him will be a part of her life — will it be his mathematical genius or his issues with mental illness, or a confusing mix of both,” Foss said. “When a revolutionary mathematical proof is discovered, the people who know this young lady the most automatically assume it is the work of her father, and when she reveals she is the author, the people who love her the most struggle to believe she is capable of such an accomplishment.”

Foss lauded the quality of the faculty teaching artists and earnest students who make up the production’s ensemble in the department.

“This play is a great catalyst to some exciting stories we will share and make in the future, and I’m hopeful as I start to put down roots here in Toledo, I can continue to meet, engage and both support and collaborate with the community of excellent storytellers and theatre makers here in our city.”

“Proof” cast members are Aneesah S. Taalib-Deen, a freshman majoring in theatre, as Catherine; Sarena Jackson, a senior theatre major, as Claire; Austin Rambo, a junior majoring in theatre and film with a minor in communications, as Harold Dobbs; and Bill Quinlan, a local professional actor, as Robert.

Tickets are $8 for students; $10 for UT faculty, staff and alumni, and military members and seniors; and $15 for the general public. Call 419.530.ARTS (2787) or order online at Tickets also will be available at the door.

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