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Wit - Acting Edition Paperback – May 1, 1999
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The play is also extremely witty (no pun intended). It's worldview is basically Christian, because of its resounding affirmation of the goodness of human life, and the brutalities wreaked by self-centredness. This drama also deals with the issue of what constitutes good scholarship. Is good scholarship just a "way of quantifying the complexities of the puzzle" (in the words of the young post-doc researcher, Jason Posner), or does good scholarship give us a vital way of answering old questions?
This is also a play in praise of simplicity. When Vivian Bearing is on her deathbed, she recoils in horror at the thought of her old professor reciting one of the Holy Sonnets. Instead, the wizened old professor reads Vivian a children's story, a little "allegory of the soul: Wherever you go God will find it." God finds Vivian's soul, but only after she has been stripped of her old pretentions and arrogance. I have never read such a beautiful literary depiction of genuine spiritual conversion (with the possible exception of Dostoevsky's Raskolnikov).
You cannnot call yourself a well-read person unless you've read this play. This drama will be read for centuries hence. You can also buy a good film version on Amazon, which was released in 2000, casting Emma Thompson as Vivian Bearing (one of her best roles, I believe), and the lovely, talented Audra McDonald as her primary nurse.
Vivian Bearing, a professor of seventeenth-century poetry, specializing in the Holy Sonnets of John Donne, has stage four, metastatic, ovarian cancer; there is no stage five. She's in the hospital throughout the play except in flashbacks to her college years, her childhood years, and her teaching years. She is a no-nonsense woman, steeping her life in the intricacies of metaphysical poetry. In her field she is "a force." We know she's a force because we can see it, or read it from the time she walks out on stage.Read more ›
(Full disclosure: Before she moved to Atlanta, Margaret Edson worshiped at the same church in Washington, D.C. I knew her a little and always admired her luminous talents and down-to-earth lack of pretension.)
However, behind the pages and pages of speech is a very deep connection to the poetry that Vivian found that simply eluded her with other people. She has such a brilliant and generative mind that when she says "the speaker of the sonnet has a brilliant mind, and he plays his part convincingly," we almost think she describes herself. Her dependence upon her scholarly work is so great that when she finally forms a connection to Susie, the light of sunshine in this story, it is heartbreaking that she must die soon after. Edson shows us that the most real of connections is not always where we think it will be (emphasis on "think"). Vivian says it herself - "My brain is dulling, and poor Susie's was never very sharp to begin with..." While everyone else in the text is intelligent, intellectual, scientific, Susie's sheer altruism and kindness are overwhelming for Vivian, who has never experienced love that way.
Playing this role has had an immense impact on both my thought process and my haircut, as I did shave my head for the part. I have also gained a great appreciation (apprecia-see-on!) for John Donne after this play, on whom I might not have otherwise spent much time. I highly recommend this play to anyone looking to see the ideas of life and death in a new way, to read something beautiful and emotional... to anyone, really.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This play is phenomenal. Has may scenes for female monologues. Playbook came in great condition.Published 2 months ago by Teresa C
Excellent quality not to mention that the play itself is really good.Published 10 months ago by Daniel Morales
This is an excellent play. I've read it many times and wanted to own it. My former copy disappeared mysteriously.Published 16 months ago by Elaine Light
Fabulous play and tour de force part of an actress. Based on a real individual's struggles with cancer, it really rings true.Published 18 months ago by Sally D. Bailey
This was selected by our instructor for a retirement learning class as an example of the form that current theater has taken. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Jana Moberly
The play came in great condition and I received promptly. I would certainly order from you again in the future.Published on December 15, 2011 by Taylor Brock
I read this book for a nursing class I am taking. It's a wonderful depiction of hospitalization, giving accurate portrayals of doctors, nurses and patients, which is surprising... Read morePublished on January 13, 2007 by J. Berg