Inside Moravian
e-Newsletter of the Moravian College Campus Community 11/5/13
Professor Christopher Jones talks to Hannah Stevens while on set.
 

ABOVE: Christopher Jones, associate professor of biology, rehearses with Hannah Stevens '16 in the days leading up to the Moravian College Theatre Company's performances of Proof. (Photos courtesy of Christoper Shorr)

 
 

Production of ‘Proof’ Features Apropos Local Artwork

By Ryan Mulligan ’14

The Moravian College Theatre Company will present the play “Proof” by David Auburn on campus Thursday, Nov. 7, through Sunday, Nov. 10. The play is centered on a recently deceased genius mathematician and his caretaker daughter, exploring the shades of grey between genius and mental instability. True to the goals of the Moravian College Theatre Company to provide an enriching as well as entertaining experience, director Christopher Shorr has incorporated elements of two Pennsylvania artists into aspects of the production. The set design will feature two metal sculptures created by artist Steve Tobin, and an exhibit of drawings by artist Michael Wysochansky will run concurrent with the performances.

“This is a play I think audiences at Moravian will really enjoy,” Shorr said. “It's an intimate play with terrific dialogue, a dramatic plot line, and themes that are relevant to our community. As a bonus, it features a relationship between a professor and a student, a daughter heading off to college, and a sibling relationship a lot of people will relate to."

Tobin’s pieces will be featured prominently in the set of the production. The play includes themes of mathematics and mental illness, exploring the line between genius and insanity. These elements take on new meaning through the lens of Tobin’s sculptural metalwork which incorporates hundreds of metal numbers welded into geometric shapes illustrating the line between order and chaos. The two sculptures are part of a series called “Syntax.” Tobin’s previous work includes massive pieces of metalwork resembling sprawling, unearthed roots that can be seen throughout the United States, including three pieces on the College’s campus, as well as the famous “Trinity Root” in the courtyard of Trinity Church in lower Manhattan. In a 2012 exhibit at Moravian called “Steve Tobin Explodes,” Tobin displayed works of art by exploding small pieces of dynamite inside textured blocks of clay.

Coinciding with the run of the production of “Proof,” an exhibit of Wysochansky’s artwork will be displayed in the Recreational Room next door to the Arena Theatre in the Haupert Union Building. Wysochanksy is an “outsider artist”– an artistic savant, with no formal training who has suffered a lifetime of mental and physical illnesses. Throughout his life, the Scranton-born artist has worked through his schizophrenia, near debilitating headaches, and major bouts of depression to transplant his unique perspective onto thousands of sheets of paper and canvas. His distorted and unnatural depiction of people and nature scenes is evocative of the post-impressionistic style of Vincent Van Gogh, an artist Wysochansky speaks of with great respect. For years, thousands of Wysochansky’s pieces were simply discarded, and his unique style would have been lost if Steven Lichak, senior producer of Lehigh University’s Digital Media Studios, had not worked with Wysochansky to catalogue thousands of pieces of art. In keeping with the theme of mental illness in juxtaposition with genius, Wysochanksy’s artistic perspective will complement the production of play.

“One of the great things about theatre – and especially theatre on a college campus – is its ability to pull together different disciplines,” said Shorr. “Last year, we began programming gallery exhibits to accompany our productions, selecting artwork that could provide additional perspective and/or context for the content and themes of our plays. I had been exposed briefly to Michael Wysochansky’s art through working with Steve Lichak on other projects, and I thought of him immediately for this production. The integration of Steve Tobin's sculpture into the set was less planned – it just fell into place. I knew I wanted a sculptural element on the back porch of the house in the play. Staff in Moravian’s Art Department arranged a tour of Tobin's gallery and workshop in Quakertown. His “Syntax” series, which incorporates letters and numbers, was a perfect complement to an existing scenic element of writing on the walls and floor of the theatre. It felt like fate! Tobin generously agreed to loan two pieces from that series to Moravian for the run of our play.”

Hannash Stevens (left) goes over a scene with Ariel Hudak '14 in preparation for this week's performances. Professor Jones sits with his foot up during a scene for Proof.

ABOVE: Stevens (left) goes over a scene with Ariel Hudak '14 in preparation for this week's performances.

ABOVE: Proof has "terrific dialogue, a dramatic plot line, and themes that are relevant to our community," said Shorr.

The cast includes: Hannah Stevens ’16 (“Catherine”); Christopher Jones (“Robert”), associate professor of biology; Ariel Hudak ’14 (“Claire”); and Jordan Orth (“Hal”), a guest artist and Touchstone Theatre apprentice.

Members of the production staff are: Emma Chong, stage manager and lighting design; Sophia Osbourne ’16, assistant stage manager; James Jordan, production design, sound design, rigging; William Bauman, costume design; Daniel Lewis, carpentry; Stephen Barnett, rigging; and Emily Strong ’15 and Abbey Rosko ’15, scene painting. In addition to directing, Shorr assisted with production design, carpentry, rigging and scene painting.

The Moravian College Theatre Company’s run of “Proof,” with its germane incorporation of relevant art, will have performances Nov. 7, 8 and 9, at 8 p.m., and Nov. 10, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for general admission, $10 for students/senior citizens, $3 for Moravian College students, and $5 Moravian College faculty and staff. Purchase tickets online at www.lvartsboxoffice.org. All performances are in the Arena Theatre, located on the lower level of the HUB on Monocacy Street between Locust and Laurel streets, one block west of Main Street.

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