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For the week of July 3 - 9, 2002

Arts and Entertainment

Seeking ‘Proof’

Express Arts Editor

There is a moment in David Auburn’s play ‘Proof’ when a character describes working on a mathematical proof: "It was just connecting the dots. Some nights I could connect three or four. Some nights they’d be really far apart, I’d have no idea how to get to the next one, if there was a next one."

Rachel Aanestad and Richard Hefner star in "Proof," opening Wednesday, July 10 at The Community School Theatre in Sun Valley. Photo by Kirsten Shultz

It is a statement that might speak equally well to creative endeavors like doing advanced mathematics as to forging human relationships. Both pursuits are at the center of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize-winning play currently playing in London, Los Angeles, on Broadway and, beginning Wednesday, July 10, in Sun Valley.

The New Theatre Company will bring the play to The Community School Theatre, 8 p.m. nightly, through Sunday, July 21. Tickets for the play are available at Chapter One in Ketchum, Ex Libris in Sun Valley, Read All About It in Hailey and TicketWeb.

"Proof" is a play ostensibly about mathematics, but one really more about family relationships and ferreting out and accepting one’s identity amid a swirl of genetic and environmental influences. It is an elegantly written, emotionally powerful drama. And, in our case, it is acted by a very talented cast comprising Rachel Aanestad, Robert Rais, Richard Hefner and Leslie Scarborough. Valley resident and actress, Pamela Sue Martin, is directing the play.

It is indeed rare that a community as small as the Wood River Valley is able to land the production rights to a play in such demand, one shining so brightly in the current limelight. But that is, in fact, what producer David Blampied and the New Theatre Company has managed.

"Proof" is a story about a young woman, Catherine, played by Aanestad, who has spent several years caring for her father, Robert (Rais). He is a brilliant mathematician who has suffered various forms of mental illness.

As the play opens, the deceased father visits Catherine. She is faced with the thought that she may have inherited both his genius and illness. Also figuring into the drama is Catherine’s sister Claire (Scarborough), who wants to take Catherine back to New York and make plans for her life. Hal, played by Hefner, is a math protégé of Robert’s rummaging through his former professor’s papers hoping to find something of academic value.

"What keeps emerging for me is the relationship between Catherine and her father—the gifts we inherit. They may seem like burdens, but they’re not. For instance, genius and the chaos that comes with it," Martin said of the broad themes she sees in the work.

Martin, who has had a very successful career acting in television and films, left Hollywood several years ago to live here. She has been involved in several community theatrical productions.

"I think by living here and not in Los Angeles, by having a son, I have discovered, in theater, my true art form … Theater is such a luxury—it is more in depth, exciting, you have more time. In television, I never got to do work I just loved, pieces like this play."

This production of "Proof" is a full equity production, meaning the actors are paid for their work. Richard Hefner used to live in the valley, helped start New Theatre Company and, subsequently moved to New York City. Robert Rais performed here in "Fully Committed" last fall. He normally lives and works in Cincinnati, Ohio. Rachel Aanestad grew up in the valley; Leslie Scarborough is a resident as well.

Martin described the production as one of co-creation. "This piece demands that we all dig deep … We find things together. As director, I’m there to watch and shape and see what’s working."


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.