A contemporary play that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2001 is opening the season at West Liberty University’s Kelly Theatre this fall.

John Hennen, as Robert, instructs his daughter Catherine, played by Maggie Balsley.

John Hennen, as Robert, instructs his daughter Catherine, played by Maggie Dillon.

“Proof,” by David Auburn, is a touching tale about four characters that interact around the issues of genius, mental instability and filial devotion. Curtain is at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday-Saturday, Oct. 9 – 12 and 3 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 13.

Also winning the Tony Award for Best Play, the action centers on Catherine, who has been caring for her brilliant but unstable father, a famous mathematician who has recently died. Now, she must deal with her own volatile emotions; the arrival of her sister; and a former student of her father’s who hopes to find valuable work in the 103 notebooks that her father left behind.

Over the long weekend that follows, a burgeoning romance and the discovery of a mysterious notebook draw Catherine into the most difficult problem of all: How much of her father’s madness—or genius—will she inherit?

“Proof” also was made into an award-winning movie in 2005 that starred Gwyneth Paltrow, Anthony Hopkins, Jake Gyllenhaal and Hope Davis.

Directed by WLU theater adjunct instructor Maggie Balsley, “Proof” will feature WLU theater instructor John Hennen as Robert (Catherine’s dead father), sophomore theater major Maggie P. Dillon as Catherine, junior theater major Doug Gouldsberry as Catherine’s love interest and former student of Robert’s, and Wheeling Park High School senior Caitlin Reasbeck as Claire, Catherine’s sister.

Reasbeck is a student in West Liberty University’s Advanced Academy, an early entrance college program offered to high achieving high school juniors and seniors.

Additional Hilltop Player productions this season include:

“Spring Awakening,” based on a play by Frank Wedekind, with book and lyrics by Steven Slater and music by Duncan Sheik, Spring Awakening is set in Germany, 1891. It looks at the cultural training of children who at the time are not being taught about life and instead their time is devoted to memorizing Latin and to minding their parents.

“Spring Awakening” explores the confusion and desperation that ensue when the onrushing tide of hormones meets the ignorance of children. It will be staged at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 20-21, 23 (no performance on Nov. 22 due to Wheeling’s Christmas parade) and 3 p.m., Nov. 24.

Student-Directed One-Act Festival of Comedic Playwrights will delight audiences in February as the Hilltop Players upperclassmen who finished their coursework in a directing course will choose, cast, direct, and oversee the designs of their plays. This production will take place at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 19-22 and 3 p.m., Feb. 23.

Finally, closing the 2013 – 2014 season, the Hilltop Players will present “The Importance of Being Earnest,” by Oscar Wilde. Often considered the wittiest comedy ever written, the subtitle “A Trivial Comedy for Serious People” perfectly describes the play. Production times and dates will be, 7:30 p.m., April 9-12 and 3 p.m., April 13.

Discounted tickets to “Proof” are now on sale at htpproof.brownpapertickets.com.

Reservations also can be made by calling 304.336.8277. West Liberty University’s theater program is part of the College of Arts and Communications that includes the departments of journalism, communication studies and visual arts, along with music and theatre. For more information, please visit westliberty.edu.