Pulitzer Prize Winner “Proof” Brought to life by the Four Seas Players

Article by Rubianny Alvarado

The Four Seas Players was founded in October 1970 as a community outreach program for immigrants and the local youth. Dr. Joanna Chan, Ms. Sun Fu Lo, Dr. Leo Yam and Mr. Chung Lo are the founders of this organization which promotes creativity in the dramatic arts especially in relation to Chinese culture and tradition. The Four Seas Players kicks off their 48th season with PROOF, recipient of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, written by David Auburn and directed by Lai Yee Fung.

Catherine, played by Charis Chu, is a troubled twenty five year old woman who has spent her youth taking care of her ill math genius father. Catherine is faced with her own reality once her father Robert, portrayed by Jackie Huang, passes away and she begins to see his “ghost”.

It may seem as if this is a production about a young woman who loses her mind after her father passes away. This is reasonable because Catherine does see her father after his death while no one else does. In addition she becomes paranoid as her father’s former student, Harold, played by Simon Tam, makes continuous visits after her father’s death. However I would suggest that this production is actually about the mental illness that is often times swept under the rug in Chinese culture. It wasn’t until I spoke to the artistic director, Jackie Huang, that this theme became evident in the play.

Huang had first read “Proof” after it had won the Pulitzer prize and had immediately fallen in love with the scrip. He states that the play was very layered “Very much like peeling an onion, it’s very rich and very well written.” As both the artistic director and a central character in the play, Huang had his work cut out for him. The cast began rehearsing in August, his first task was to research mental illness in order to have a better grasp on the complexity of not only his character but the production as a whole. He regrettably admits that in Chinese culture people don’t really talk about mental illness however he hopes that Proof will bring awareness on this topic.

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