The opening night of the play “Proof” arrives on March first. Upstairs in the Rafter’s Theatre, it is obvious by the hanging drapes and set pieces that the proverbial red carpet is almost ready to unravel. Gene Ellis, the director, can hardly believe how rapidly everything has taken shape.
“I’m just really exciting about being involved with it,” Ellis says.
“Proof” is written by David Auburn. The play won the Pulitzer Prize, which Ellis points out. One thing about the play which he is particularly passionate about is the script. He clearly respects and savors it.
“I know the show, I read it when it first came out and I went to see it,” Ellis says. “It was just a beautiful show.”
“It’s very well written. It really is beautiful. The way they structure it and the way they put it together, it’s very nice,” Ellis says.
Ellis explains a bit about the story by introducing the character of Catherine, who is played by Mariah Mamas.
“[Catherine] is dealing with the death of her father,” Ellis says. “And she is a little concerned because her dad went crazy. He was a math genius and he just went crazy…and she’s very scared that she is like her dad. And so she…has built walls around her so that people can’t get in to hurt her or destroy her.”
“She alleges,” Ellis continues “that she wrote a mathematical proof…well no one believes that she is a genius like her dad. And they believe that she might be going crazy and that the dad really wrote it…and the story is about her proving to herself and to the world that the proof is hers.”
This is not the first time that Ellis has directed a show. One of his most recent productions was “Hair”. “Proof,” however, is a bit of a different experience for Ellis. For one thing, an unprecedented phenomenon will be happening in the Rafter’s Theatre. “Proof,” Ellis says, “will be done in the round.” While there had been similar seating space for “The Children’s Hour” last year, the spectators only had sat directly behind and in front of the stage.
“There is going to be audience on all four sides,” Ellis explains. “So it’s going to be a challenge in that the actors really have never really had that before and so that’s been a big challenge to deal with that and work with that.”
Ellis gives tremendous kudos to the people concerned with the show.
“[The cast] got off-script as soon as they could, they’re always working. I constantly see them working together to get lines…and I really appreciate that,” he says. “I really have enjoyed working with this cast…I’ve enjoyed working with my tech crew also…and Victor [Capecce] and Tony [Elliot], [and] Tina [Stout] are just absolutely excellent to work with. And they care a lot about the product and they care a lot about students.”
Ellis also shared a bit about what he sees as the importance of the show. “Every day we’re faced with people who don’t truly believe us,” he remarks. We’re faced with obstacles that we really don’t know how to overcome.
“Proof” opens on March 1. Matinees at 2:00 p.m. will be held on March 3 and 10. 8:00 p.m. performances are March 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9. Discount tickets for Millersville students with ID are available at the SMC box office for $5. Otherwise, student tickets are $7 at the Rafter’s box office. Regular tickets are $10. Tickets can be acquired at the Student Memorial Center box office, which is situated next to the Galley.