Since its inception in 2013,Taos Onstage has been a nomadic theater troupe.
Its first five seasons of diverse entertainment were offered in hotel ballrooms, music venues and black box theaters around Taos. This weekend, for the first time, the company will open its sixth season in its own dedicated, permanent performance space.
The inaugural production in the new Taos Onstage Theatre will be David Auburn's award-winning 2000 play, "Proof." Performances are today through Saturday (Oct. 18-20) and Thursday (Oct. 25) through Oct. 27, at 7:30 p.m., with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.
"Proof" examines a complex father-daughter legacy of mathematical brilliance and mental fragility. The play centers around 25-year-old Catherine (Mikala Martínez), daughter of the recently deceased mathematical genius Robert (David Pérez). Robert's former graduate student Hal (Justin Janowick) comes to sort through his mentor's papers.
After initially questioning Hal's motives, Catherine finds herself cautiously exploring a relationship with him while stepping out from her father's looming shadow. Irene Loy plays Catherine's successful, practical older sister Claire.
Taos Onstage co-founder and president Charlotte Keefe is directing the play.
"Taos Onstage tries to select a variety of genres for its season," Keefe said. "I knew 'Proof' was a great play. I felt that with the wonderful talent in Taos, we could do a very good production of it. Our actors have been very dedicated to exploring their characters and discovering the many textures of personal relationships. While the play is about mathematics, under the surface it concerns the tensions between the love of people close to us and the things that undo them."
Mikala Martínez has been acting in Taos since 2017. "In addition to loving the script and the character of Catherine, I was drawn to the challenge," she said. "Catherine is on stage for most of the show. All but about eight minutes of the play is dialogue between my character and the other actors. I have never had to memorize so many lines, and the character is so different to my personality that I knew being given the chance to portray her would be an exciting opportunity to broaden my acting skills and understanding of people. I hope to give her the striking balance of strength and fragility that is written into the role."
Martínez enthused about her fellow actors. "I can't say enough! It has been incredible. This is my third time working with David Pérez. It is always a pleasure, really. He brings so much energy to the stage and to his role and to the actors around him. He is a generous actor who finds ways to truly connect to his fellow performers in every scene."
She said this is her first time working with Irene Loy. "That is something I've wanted to do since I saw her in 'Faith Healer' last fall," Martínez said. "She is a brilliant actor and a brilliant woman and has taught me so much. She has a rare kind of talent that shines on its own, but also brings out the best in the people working around her. This is also my first time working with Justin Janowick, and he has been lovely. He is so enthusiastic, so talented and so willing to try anything that working with him has been a lot of fun. Charlotte Keefe has been great at instilling confidence, bringing her expertise to the table and still giving her actors room to play."
David Pérez boasts acting experience that comprises a range of roles "from Othello to Santa Claus." He has also also earned renown as a writer, playwright and educator.
"I was familiar with 'Proof,' and felt it to be a dynamic play, layered and deep," Pérez said. "It won a Pulitzer and Tony Award, so that says a lot about its quality. All the characters are well-written and allow for multiple possibilities. My character, Robert, the father and math genius who has a severe mental breakdown, offers interesting challenges. How do you 'play crazy' when the scenes calls for it? How loving -- or not -- is he to his daughter? Being a father of two adult children myself has helped me delve into this role in so many interesting ways. Our director Charlotte Keefe is insightful, hardworking, and a joy to work with. The same is true of the rest of the cast: Mikala, Irene and Justin. I feel we have some good chemistry going on. It's a super-rich play, a true theatrical treat."
Loy has already established a strong acting résumé in her three years in Taos, appearing in diverse roles for Taos Onstage and other companies. "I love that 'Proof' is a feminist play with a strong female lead, inside a family drama about mathematics, i.e., where you'd least expect it," Loy said. "I think many of the audience members will have cared for their parents as they were aging. In that case, they will either have made the choice to stay close, like Catherine, or to move and have their own life and support from afar, like my character Claire. Either way, they'll see how Claire believes she is trying to help even when she gets in the way. I hope that they love her and feel for her even when they don't like her.
"The cast and crew have been great. We've worked hard to develop camaraderie -- in rehearsals, running through our lines, having meals together. We're an ensemble now, and that feels good. The old JR Clothing store is utterly transformed. With new acoustics, a great set, and new seats, we're in good shape for an awesome run. Come join us."