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The ‘Proof’ is in the numbers 

Claudia Coonan as Catherine and Jason Keirsbilck as Hal sitting on the back porch set during dress rehearsals of Proof, Feb 21, 2024. (Photo Credit: Anna Brasted)

SUNY Brockport’s theater department is hosting its first play of the spring semester, Proof

Despite some minor stage malfunctions, it was decided the show must go on and everything proceed as planned, and boy, are we glad they did. 

Proof is a Pulitzer Prize winning Broadway play written by David Auburn. It follows a mathematician, his two daughters and his student prodigy turned teacher who try to figure out who authored a mathematical proof that could change the industry.     

The main focus is Catherine, the daughter of a famous mathematician figuring out her life as big changes are happening. A mathematical proof that could mean the world for mathematicians written by Catherine is revealed. Only one problem, no one believes her.           

Junior Rachel Ekstrom, who is an active member of the theater department, plays Claire, the “helpful” older sister of Catherine. Ekstrom has been in many plays at Brockport and really enjoyed working on Proof. Ekstrom then spoke on what this play meant in her own words. 

“Without giving too much away, Proof has a lot of themes of mental illness and family,” Ekstrom said. “It has a lot to do with mathematicians, and the struggle of when you’re too old and you can’t do your work anymore. What purpose do you have?” 

The play has an underlying storyline of schizophrenia and the question of purpose after a certain point in one’s life. Inside Tower Fine Arts where the play is held, stories can be found of famous mathematicians who later suffered from schizophrenia, as well as other mental illnesses caused by the stress of the field.  

First year student Jack Hnatiw is a psychology major here at Brockport and found the underlying mental health storyline quite inspiring. 

“I think stuff like that really helps break down the stigma that we have around mental health. And I think that is really good,” Hnatiw said. “Stuff like the possible schizophrenia referenced in the play is, I think, very good to bring to light because not a lot of people understand it. It’s really good to be aware and knowledgeable of these things so that we don’t harm anyone or so that we can take care of people.” 

Although, you don’t have to be a psychology major to appreciate this well written play. First year Jack Desrosiers, is an English Adolescent Education major and appreciated the depth this play had. 

“I thought it was a great depiction of family dynamics and the impact of mental health and how it can affect your relationships,” Desrosiers said. 

This play really is a lot more than just mathematicians doing math. Proof will only be in Tower Fine Arts for a short period of time, but its message is timeless.  

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