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Wit is the powerful play by Margaret Edson that focuses on the life and death of fictional university professor Dr. Vivian Bearing. Throughout, the study of the metaphysical poetry of John Donne, particularly Holy Sonnet X ("Death Be Not Proud"), is used to examine Bearing's own life, including her regretful forsaking of human relationships in favor of scholarly eminence. As she dies from advanced ovarian cancer, she reflects on the loneliness of becoming a subject of study herself and searches for new meaning.
Wit premiered at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, California in 1995. A subsequent production at New Haven, Connecticut's Long Wharf Theatre, starring Kathleen Chalfant, transferred to New York's MCC Theatre in 1998 and, finally, to New York's Union Square Theatre. It was embraced by critics and audiences alike, and won both the 1999 New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best New Play and the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. In 2001, Wit was made into a television movie starring Emma Thompson in the lead role, and the 2011 Broadway production stars Sex and the City's Cynthia Nixon. Witness this great dramatic work for yourself; order your Wit tickets today.Plot Synopsis:
Dr. Vivian Bearing, a University English Professor and scholar of poet John Donne, lies in a hospital bed, dying of Stage IV metastatic ovarian cancer. She looks back on her diagnosis by Dr. Harvey Kelekian, who suggests an experimental treatment of chemotherapy, to be administered in eight rounds. Seeing no other option, Vivian agrees.
Vivian examines her life through the lens of the English language she has studied so thoroughly, making particularly heavy use of the wit in John Donne's metaphysical poetry. She recites Holy Sonnet X, "Death Be Not Proud," and uses its many intricacies to reflect on her condition: physical, mental, and emotional. Because of her tenacious pursuit of academic greatness, she has ignored the value of human relationships and remains unmarried and childless. Since her parents are dead, she doesn't have a single person to list as a contact for her hospital admittance.
Vivian is now a subject of grand rounds, in which doctors and medical students use her as a teaching tool. Longing for the more innocent time of her childhood, she recalls her relationship with her father, who instilled in her a love of books and words. She remembers vividly when he helped teach her the meaning of a word in Beatrix Potter's Benjamin Bunny, "soporific." She also recalls her tutelage under Dr. E. M. Ashford, a John Donne expert.
Later, Vivian finds out that one of her doctors is a former student, Jason Posner, who took her class to show medical schools how "well-rounded" he was. As she realizes that she is being studied by the doctors just as she read literature, she resolves that she would now prefer human contact to intellectual solitude. A kind nurse, Susie Monahan, begins reaching out to Vivian and introduces the option of "DNR" ("do not resuscitate") should her condition worsen, which she agrees to indicate on her chart.
Soon, Vivian's health declines greatly and she begins experiencing extreme pain. Coincidentally, Dr. Ashford is in town visiting relatives and hears about Vivian's condition. She visits and tries to comfort Vivian with a Donne sonnet, but she requests that Ashford read to her from Margaret Wise Brown's The Runaway Bunny, which she has brought as a present for her grandson. As Vivian's condition worsens, her heart seems to open. Get your Wit tickets today and see Vivian's final struggle for peace and fulfillment play out.Run Time: Approximately 90 minutes with no intermission Advisory: Recommended for teenagers and older (adult themes). Children under 4 are not permitted in the theatre. Creative Team: Playwright Margaret Edson Wit News: January 26, 2012 Following previews from January 5, Wit, starring Cynthia Nixon, opens on Broadway.