Every spring, junior theater majors can apply to direct the next year’s spring department show in Haugen Theater. Only one candidate is selected. The recipient gains experience directing, budgeting, and collaborating. This year’s director is Rachel Ropella ’20 and the show is “Proof” by David Auburn.
Ropella is a senior theater major from Menomonie, Wisconsin. Her previous St. Olaf directing projects include “Horse Girls” and “Interrupting Vanessa.” She also produces shows with her theater company Melancholics Anonymous outside of college.
“Proof” follows Catherine, the daughter of a genius mathematician and professor, who takes care of her father for many years until his death. Catherine’s older sister and one of her father’s old graduate students uncover a mathematical proof that could be credited to her father. However, the authorship is contested, and Catherine feels obligated to prove that it was written by her father while dealing with her grief. The show won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for Best Play.
“I think this show is so fascinating,” Ropella said, “because it was written in 2000, but it’s so prevalent in 2020 within this college because of academia, and how that’s used as a form of rhetoric about who is capable of doing something because of their academic status.”
“It also has to do with legacy; that pressure of living up to your potential, and what potential is perceived as by different people, especially when espoused in academia,” Ropella said. “Outside of that, I think there is so much heart within this tale about grief and what it means to inherit things from your family and how that shifts over time. We’ve definitely played a lot with the presence of legacy and family that wasn’t always put in the original script.”
The show is running in Haugen Theater this week from Thursday March 5 to Sunday March 8.