Ken Long was interested in directing "Proof" in part because it's a Pulitzer Prize-winning drama — but David Auburn's script also has pieces that everyone can relate to.
"It's about everyday life and things that people struggle with. It just uses math for that," he said.
"Proof" debuts the first of six performances Thursday night at LBCC's Russell Tripp Performance Center. The play, which also won a Tony Award for best play in 2001, was adapted into a film in 2005 starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins.
Long, who usually directs musicals at Albany Civic Theater, said the drama presented an opportunity for him to grow as a director and do something different.
The story centers on Catherine, played by Laural Tannehill, the daughter of a recently deceased brilliant mathematician and University of Chicago professor named Robert (Rus Roberts). Catherine had been taking care of her father as he succumbed to mental illness. Catherine struggles with the same combination of mathematical genius and mental illness, and fears she is following in her father's footsteps throughout the play.
After Robert's death, his ex-student Hal (Josh Mitchell) comes by to look through his notes for a mathematical proof involving prime numbers. The proof's authorship becomes a source of conflict in the play. Catherine also becomes involved with Hal.
Meanwhile, Catherine's sister Clair (Grace Porter) is trying to convince her to move to New York with her after they sell the house.
"Proof" focuses on heavy subject matter including the struggle of dealing with mental illness in a family. Long said the play also raises questions of how people react after the death of a parent.
Long said his cast has jelled quickly during a fairly brief rehearsal process.
"It's four actors with a lot of dialogue, and they're nailing it. I'm super proud of them," Long said.