Cal Poly’s theater and dance department will present the Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “Proof,” running Thursdays through Saturdays, Nov. 10 through Nov. 19 at 8 p.m. in the Spanos Theatre.
These performances will mark the regional stage premiere of the play. Director Pamela Malkin said “Proof” is one of the most acclaimed plays of the past decade.
“Most ‘great plays’ have multiple meanings, messages and themes,” she said. “Proof is no exception. It is an intriguing psychological mystery as well as a compelling
The popularity of the play was demonstrated by the recent filming of a Hollywood version, which Malkin said is very different from the stage version. The story follows four intelligent characters who are “passionately interested in ‘the life of the mind,’” Malkin said.
Three of the four characters are mathematicians who are steadfast with their research, but also struggling to find an emotional balance in their lives. The main character, Catherine, is a mathematician who makes many sacrifices to care for her brilliant but disturbed father.
Kristin “Dickie” Copeland, a theatre arts and communication studies senior, plays the role of Catherine and said she enjoys the characters’ complexities.
“I love playing a girl who’s kind of out of control,” she said. “She’s really on the brink and she’s not very steady, but she still has a lot of strength. She’s wondering if she’s a genius and she’s also wondering if she’s going to go crazy like her dad did.”
Catherine’s older sister, Claire, is played by Janell Jones, a theatre arts senior. R.J. Pomeroy plays Hal, a former student of Catherine’s father, Robert, who is played by guest artist Bill McLaughlin. McLaughlin is a distinguished actor and director who Malkin thought would fit perfectly into the role.
“I am extremely grateful that he accepted my offer to play this part,” she said. “He has brought an emotional range and depth that has been most impressive.”
Pomeroy said, like Copeland, he also loves the character he’s playing, which is one of the best things he gets out of acting in “Proof.”
“I love Hal,” he said. “He is a modern nerd who has true opinions, fears and deep emotions. I enjoy the importance of my role in the play and intricacies of Hal’s personality.”
Copeland, Jones and Pomeroy are all close friends outside of rehearsals, so they all said it makes the chemistry between the characters more natural.
“We came into the play with all three of us having great chemistry,” Jones said.
Copeland said rehearsals also seem to run more smoothly than a larger or more unacquainted cast.
“It’s a lot easier to connect because we knew each other so well,” she said. “If there’s only three other people you need to focus on, it goes so much quicker.”
Malkin said directing a small cast is a luxury for her because she can offer more individual attention to the actors, but she still works them just as hard as a larger cast.
“Student actors have to be quite committed to this process,” she said. “I rehearse at least 25 hours a week, and for students, this is over and above other courses and work loads.”
Jones said she has many other responsibilities, including working, doing her senior project, and trying to graduate this quarter, but she manages just fine.
“I think it makes it a little bit easier that both my roommate and my boyfriend are in the show,” she said. “I don’t feel like I miss out on many social things because they’re both there with me.”
Pomeroy said he’s busy but he still enjoys acting and performing.
“All of my responsibilities are activities I enjoy so the load hasn’t been too difficult,” he said.
Malkin said the student actors have done a great job with the sophisticated roles.
“Even though they are playing people within their own age range, the psychologies of their roles differ dramatically, of course, from their own personalities,” she said. “Kristin, Janell and R.J. have been quite successful creating distinct, natural and believable characters with a wide range of emotions and unique physical mannerisms.”
Tickets for “Proof” are $12 for the public, $10 for students and seniors and $8 for groups of 10 or more. Order tickets by phone at SLO-ARTS (756-2787).