DEATH BE NOT PROUD: Margeret Edson’s Pulitzer-Prize winning play opens this weekend at Dayton Playhouse
Pulitzer-Prize Winning plays seem to be the fall trend in Dayton Theatre. Leading the way was the joint premiere of Tracy Lett’s August: Osage County from Wright State University and The Human Race Theatre Company. This week, Dayton Playhouse will present one of Pulitzer’s more powerful selections in recent years – Margaret Edson’s W;t.
The play is structured as the last hours of Dr Vivian Bearing, a university professor of English, who is dying of ovarian cancer. She recalls the initial diagnosis of Stage IV metastatic ovarian cancer from her oncologist, Dr. Harvey Kelekian. Dr Kelekian then proposes an experimental chemotherapeutic treatment. Although Vivian agrees to the treatment, the heart of the piece is Vivian’s searing intellect and introspective journey with disease.
What’s striking about the play is that it serves as both an homage to those we have all lost to cancer – ovarian or otherwise – and a heartfelt “hell-yeah!” to those currently in a fight for their lives. This is an extraordinary achievement for a typically intermission-free evening of theatre. Even more striking is that W;t is not a play about cancer, but rather a play about the value of the heart in times of vulnerability. Theatrically, it has often served as a tour-de-force for the actress embodying Vivian. She is well-educated, logical, an expert on the work of John Donne, and an accomplished academic, yet through the play we see even her arguably above-average intellect is no match for the illogical complexities of this crippling scourge.
Premiering in 1995, one might think advances in cancer research since would render Edson’s play obsolete or, at the very least dated. Refreshingly, Edson’s carefully selected prose still has a visceral resonance and perhaps even a fresh one in 2010.
Dayton Playhouse is in the middle of an ambitious season that began with a widely well-received regional premiere of Mel Brooks’ Tony-Winning musical The Producers directed by Chris Harmon. The remainder of the year includes William Finn’s contemporary hit The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Jerry Herman’s iconic and progressive La Cage Aux Folles, and Christopher Durang’s Beyond Therapy. W;t – although not a light evening of theatre – could prove to be a fine addition to this line-up AND a rarely produced play in the region, and with local actors Barbara Coriell and Chuck Larkowski leading the cast (as Vivian Bearing and Dr. Kelekian, respectively), the prospects are high indeed.
W;t is directed by Matthew Smith with assistance from Anita Bachmann (lights), Duante Beddingfield (sound), Michael Stockstill (costumes) and Jamie McQuinn (stage management). The cast includes Barbara Coriell, Jonathan Berry, Chuck Larkowski, Jeri Williams, Chris Hammond, Gloria Doty, Ellen Ballerene, Macus Simmons II and Carol Narigon.
Win tickets to W;t
Dayton Playhouse & onStageDayton on DaytonMostMetro.com have teamed up to give you a chance to win tickets to W;t. We will be giving away up to four pairs of tickets for the second weekend of this terrific show! All you need to do is:
For more Information & Tickets, visit:
Margeret Edson’s W;t (November 12-21, 8pm Fridays & Saturdays and 2pm Sundays at Dayton Playhouse, 1301 East Siebenthaler Ave
Dayton, OH 45414) Tickets: $10/$14/$15 Call (937) 424-8477 (M-F 2:00-5:00 pm) or by visiting their ONLINE BOX OFFICE.
Visit http://www.daytonplayhouse.org/ for more information about the organization.
Shane Anderson & David Brush work with locally based Encore Theater Company. Katherine Nelson, a senior theatre major at Cedarville University, serves as the Literary Intern for ETC. The local theater company recently moved into the new arts collective space in the Oregon Arts District, along with Zoot Theatre Co & Rhythm In Shoes. Encore Theater Company has a mission to help develop new works of musical theater, most recently Next Thing You Know and The Proof, two new musicals in development.