Playwright, veteran actors part of Bethel production of ‘Wit’
A chance to get a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright on campus was one Megan Upton-Tyner could not let go by.
As she rounds out her first year as instructor of theater at Bethel, Upton-Tyner is directing a production of “Wit” by Margaret Edson, which won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for drama and was later made into a 2001 HBO movie starring Emma Thompson.
The play will be on the Krehbiel Auditorium stage in the Fine Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 5, and Friday, May 6, and at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, May 7.
Margaret Edson will be part of discussion sessions after the May 6 performance and before the May 7 one and will speak in convocation at Bethel May 6 at 11 a.m., also in Krehbiel Auditorium.
Upton-Tyner took Edson up on a declaration in February 2010 that she would travel to see Annette Thornton play Vivian Bearing, the lead role in “Wit,” in a fully staged production.
In February 2010, Bethel graduate Joy Goldsmith, associate professor of communication at Young Harris (Ga.) College, organized a symposium at YHC on the performance of palliative care that included a staged reading of “Wit,” with Edson, who is from Atlanta, present. Goldsmith had asked her former Bethel professors, John McCabe-Juhnke, professor of communication arts, and Thornton to read the roles of Dr. Harvey Kelekian and Vivian Bearing.
“Joy told me later that Maggie Edson was very enamored of Annette’s reading,” says McCabe-Juhnke. “She said she’d like to see a fully staged production with Annette in the role and that she would come for it.”
“Wit” follows the last hours of a single, middle-aged academic and Donne scholar as she is dying of ovarian cancer after undergoing an experimental and aggressive regime of chemotherapy.