“Proof,” a prize-winning play by David Auburn about a family dealing with mental health issues, will be presented this weekend by Vashon Youth & Family Services, in two free open-air performances at Sunrise Ridge.
Charlotte Tiencken, who is in charge of fundraising and community engagement for VYFS, said the show is being brought to Vashon as part of a new effort by the organization to reach out and assist islanders who are coping with and taking care of family members with mental health challenges.
“We’re finding out there are a lot of people on the island who are in this situation,” said Tiencken, who also urged all other islanders to see the play, which won both the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play in 2001. The show is produced and performed by members of Thriving Artists Theatre, a Latino theater company in Seattle. The ensemble has adapted the show to be performed in both Spanish and English, so that it can be understood by audience members who speak either language.
“Proof,” starring Thriving Artist ensemble members Michael Blum and Ana Maria Campoy, centers on the character of Catherine, the daughter and caretaker of a recently deceased mathematical genius, who also suffered from mental illness. Throughout, the play explores Catherine’s fear of following in her father’s footsteps, both mathematically and mentally, and her desperate attempts to stay in control.
The theater company has performed the play in backyards and other outdoor spaces all over Seattle, Tiencken said. According to Tiencken, Thriving Artists Theatre decided to perform “Proof” because they felt that there was a lack of public places for Hispanic people to discuss mental illness. This weekend, as in past performances, there will be a post-show discussion with the cast. Clinicians from VYFS will also be on hand to answer questions about the effects of mental illness on families.
In November, Tiencken said, the agency will offer a full-day seminar at the Presbyterian church for caretakers or family members of people who have mental illnesses. Tiencken, who has a long and impressive resume in theater and the arts, has been in her current position at VYFS since March.
“Proof” will be performed at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 18 and 19, at Sunrise Ridge, across from the Neighborcare clinic in front of the building that formerly housed the Granny’s Attic furniture shop. Admission is free, with donations accepted to benefit Vashon Youth & Family Services’ behavioral health services. The play is appropriate for ages 12 and older. Bring a blanket or chair and a picnic.