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The Lucille Lortel Award

The Lucille Lortel Award was created in 1985 and was named for Lucille Lortel, an actress and theatre producer. She was born on December 16, 1900 and studied acting and theatre at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She started her career and Broadway debut in 1925 in the play Caesar and Cleopatraat the Theatre Guild. In 1947 she founded the White Barn Theatre in an old barn on her property in Westport, Connecticut. Lortel received many awards throughout her life and died on April, 4, 1999 at the age of 98. This award was designed in her memory and honors off-Broadway productions.

Information for this section was compiled from the following sources: http://www.pulitzer.org/biography http://www.pulitzer.org/historyofprizes http://www.mahalo.com/Tony_Awards http;//www.tonyawards.com/en_US/archive/index.html http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/Fall98/Brake/3main.htm http://www.dramacritics.org/dc_history.html http://www.lortel.org/IIf_awards/index.cfm?page=history http://www.dramadesk.com/history.html

Central Themes and Conflicts of Proof

Mental Illness

The type of mental illness suffered by Robert is not made clear in the script. The audience learns that it involved a disconnection with reality and perhaps a type of psychosis. We might be tempted to label his mental illness as a form of schizophrenia, particularly if we are familiar with the life of John Forbes Nash, the mathematician whose life inspired the film A Beautiful Mind.However, this is undefined by Auburn and should also be left undefined by the actors and audience.

The question as to whether Roberts mental illness was connected to his mathematical genius is also left unanswered, although we are told that by the age of 25 (the same birthday Catherine is celebrating when the play begins), Robert had completed all of the work he would complete in his field, and perhaps felt useless as his mental capacity deteriorated.


Catherine is in a vulnerable position. Considering her own level of skill in mathematics, her age of 25, and the general confusion of her life after the death of her father, she is uncertain whether she too will succumb to the same type of mental illness. The question of how much Catherine has inherited from Robert is central to the play: did she or Robert write the groundbreaking mathematical proof which Hal discovers? Will she follow in her fathers footsteps and succumb to mental illness? Has her life passed her by and is it too late for her at age 25? The tension is heightened by the confusion and emotional volatility that takes place in a situation such as that following the death of a family member. Catherines mood swings, sarcasm, and high intelligence are simultaneously character traits, responses to her fathers death, and possible warning signs for her future.


The relationship between Catherine and her father Robert is an intricate one. Catherine has essentially withdrawn from society to be his sole caretaker. There was, no doubt, a great deal of love between them, particularly since the two obviously had many things in common; however, her love for


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