ETSU Theater and Dance students will partner to present the Pulitzer Prize winning drama “Proof,” by David Auburn, that debuts at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 26 in the Bud Frank Theatre.

“We rehearse roughly five to six nights a week for about two-and-a-half, three hours a night,” said Bobby Funk, production director. “And of course they do homework outside of that too; I give them notes.”

The total production consists of four students in the cast, two stage managers and assistant designers.

“It’s all being built by students as part of a lab class,” Funk said.

The majority of the scenery was constructed to resemble a backyard in Chicago with the facade of a house, big deck, picnic table and other foliage.

“My big hope is that people will really enjoy this production because it’s an incredible story,” Funk said.

When choosing a production for the season, many times a play is chosen based on the educational and entertainment value or if a director would like to show a certain production. According to Funk, “Proof” was chosen by the designers because it included a setting that they would like to create.

“So we ended up choosing that way, but the fact that it’s a Pulitzer Prize winning play and that it has roles our students can play well, that’s why it got picked,” Funk said.

The play revolves around Catherine, the daughter of Robert, a mathematical genius and professor at the University of Chicago, who drops out of college to take care of her father.

“After the professor dies, we see him in flashbacks, but the last number of years of his life he had a mental condition and he lost his ability to do math,” Funk said.

A former graduate student appears to discover a rare and incredible finding in the professor’s office: a proof, in which Catherine claims she wrote.

“I think it’s cool because it’s structured like a murder-mystery because we are trying to figure out who wrote the proof,” Funk said.

The title of the play is symbolic because it refers to both the actual proof and if Catherine can provide evidence she wrote it.

“I’m hoping that people will get into trying to solve the mystery of it because it’s really fun,” Funk said. “There’s also a lot of insider jokes for math and computer geeks, and I’m hoping the college audience will pick up on it.”

Funk was inspired by a serious version of the production to rely more on humor in his own production.

With “Proof,” he had no idea what they were talking about when discussing mathematical formulas, but he now thinks it goes beyond that and is suitable for anyone from any major.

“It’s going to be one of the great American plays; I think in the future it will be thought of that way,” Funk said.

Other production dates include  7:30 p.m. on Feb. 27 and 28 along with an afternoon production at 2 p.m. on March 1.