As the opening night for the Pulitzer Prize winning drama “Proof” approaches on Thursday, the two sisters of the play, Catherine and Claire, share their experiences and elaborate on dramatic scenes.
“I think a lot of the height of the action and the arguments are really fun,” said freshman Aubrey Mullins, who plays the role of Catherine.
“It’s hard to come down from that sometimes.”
Director Bobby Funk said the mathematical scenes help to relieve the tension and bring humor into the production. However, it can tend to be tricky.
“I start talking about prime numbers at one point,” said Mullins.
“It’s a difficult process, some of it I didn’t even grasp at first.”
Another challenging aspect was working on dialects and accents for the play in a setting that takes place in Chicago.
“That’s been a big part of the process I think, growing up in the South, it’s something you don’t even recognize you do,” said Mullins.
She said many of the actors had to change the way they said certain words, in order to stay true to the script.
Catherine’s opposite in temperament, older sister Claire, is played by Kathryn Patterson, an ETSU grad student.
“My character is very controlling and kind of very demanding of the situation,” said Patterson. “I had to channel people I know that are kind of difficult to get along with, but very organized and have all of their act together because I’m pretty free spirited and let things go.”
Throughout the play, there are implications when Claire is very unaware of her demeanor and the other characters don’t get along with her.
Unlike her older sister, Catherine’s dynamic relies heavily on her past relationship with her father.
“Catherine is just very, she’s brilliant, but she’s very hurt and vulnerable so I think for me I really had to take time and write out everything that made up her character and made her who she is,” Mullins said.
“She’s got this wonderful, sarcastic personality especially with her sister but I think with each rehearsal and each time and really tapping into her feelings, I kind of learned more and more about who she was and was able to kind of connect with more of her heartbreak.”
Throughout the rehearsal process, Funk gives the actor’s notes and left the play open to his own interpretation.
“Going into it I knew what she [Catherine] had been through,” said Mullins. “But I didn’t feel what she’d been through and going through the rehearsal process and interacting with the other characters and starting to learn more about the character, it just kind of changes the whole game for you.”
As a grad student, Patterson said she really enjoyed being part of a freshman cast because it offered her a new perspective on theater.
“Getting an audience and performing what we’ve been working so hard on because for me the rehearsal process is so important,” said Patterson. “It does get kind of tiring, it does wear on you after a while and so once you get an audience and see people responding to the art that you’re doing, it’s all worth it.”
The adrenaline of playing in front of an audience also helps, Mullins said.
“Naturally you do get nervous, but I think those nerves kind of play into it and makes it that much more fun,” she said.