Proof comes to Fuller Seminary

This week, the Fuller Company will present our third-ever full-length production, Proof, written by David Auburn, for our winter offering to the Fuller community.   Proof centers around 25 year-old Catherine, who has spent the last several years caring for her father, Robert; a brilliant and famous mathematician who has become mentally unstable.  The play opens on the eve of her birthday, and we begin to discover what caring for her father has cost her—and it is certainly more than her social life.  Catherine is subjected to intrusions that she would not choose for herself, including the persistent presence of her father’s protégé Hal—who is looking for evidence of Robert’s brilliant mind in the pages of the 103 notebooks that he filled over the course of his illness.  Add to this the steam-rolling arrival of Catherine’s estranged sister, Claire, and we are quickly thrust into a world that many Fuller students might find uncomfortably familiar.

It may be fair to say that most students at Fuller exist in a state that appears on the surface to be essentially self-contradiction. Most of us feel very strongly that God has called us to Fuller, and then onto a life of kingdom-value and purpose. When asked what we will do with our education, most of us frame our responses within statements like “I hope to do such-and-such ministry” or “I believe my call is…” or even “I just know I have a heart for this group of people”.  But, even the most confident and planned among us still have to speak in terms laced with degrees of uncertainty.  Fuller is a place where our hopes, beliefs and doubts and our faith are brought into direct interaction, to battle each other in waves of ten-week rounds that just keep coming at us.  Yet in spite of all this, we believe strongly that there is design and purpose for us to be here.

Catherine believes that she has inherited at least some of her father’s mathematical prowess, but she fears she has gotten his mental instability along with it.  She soon finds herself in the position where decisions are being thrust upon her, and her choices, reasons, and what she believes to be true of herself is called into question by those very people who ought to be her biggest supporters. She struggles no more and no less than each of us.  This point of contact between Catherine’s story and our own provides a footing that I believe the Fuller community will be able to engage in. Catherine, Hal, Robert and Claire are all struggling between what they think they know and what they want to believe, and are trying to find that place in the middle where they can still exist together. They struggle no more and no less than we do.

The very soul of drama is the conflicts that play out in the context of the human experience. What could be more central to our theological studies than that?  Theatre is an incarnational encounter that no other form of media can offer. Written text and film that allow us to have our own space, and a measure of control that we exercise by shutting the book or pausing the DVD, but theatre is a mode of storytelling that draws us in actively, and our responses as an audience are an essential, active part of the experience.  Theatre offers us words brought to life, at least for a short time. As students across all three of Fuller’s schools, we are significantly concerned with the incarnational impact God can have on the world though us—whether it is in the mission field, the therapy session, or pulpit.  In his book Theatre and the Incarnation, Max Harris put the value of theatre in no uncertain terms:  “Christians who pay attention only to the medium of the written word and resist the imaginative reconstruction of the very palpable events to which it claims to bear witness will miss much of the fully-sensual and even theatrical nature of God’s self-revelation.”[1]   We are the people of “the Word became Flesh”, and theatre helps us exercise our ability to engage with God in this creative belief. The Word indeed did become flesh in Jesus Christ.  The creative imagination that we need in order to believe this truth is nurtured by the theatre experience.

The Fuller Company seeks to offer incarnational experiences where we as a community can sink our teeth into a shared experience, and then dialogue about how that experience relates to our studies, our personal experiences, and the Gospel.

We invite you to join us for that shared experience and dialogue on January 20th, 21st, 27th and 28th in Travis auditorium.  Tickets are $10 (students/seniors) and $12 (general admission) and are available at the door, at the ASC office in the Catalyst, or online at   Doors open at 7:30; with talk-backs following each performance.

[1] Page 7

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