Death thou shalt die!

After raising over $1,000 for local cancer-related causes, Dr. Suzanne O’Brien shaves her head to prepare for her role in “Wit,” the Pulitzer Prize winning drama. What does metaphysical poetry, theatrical arts and ovarian cancer share in common? They are all incorporated in Margaret Edson’s 1999 Pulitzer Prize winning drama, “Wit.”

On March 21-24, the SC4 Theater Discipline hosted its first ever showing of “Wit,” a drama that tells the story of Vivian Bearing, PhD, and her experience with Type IV ovarian cancer. 

The one-act play follows Bearing through her initial diagnosis, her treatment, flashbacks of significant moments in her life and finally—her death.

Director Tom Kephart summarized the drama as a play of irony, change and how we relate to one another.

“Our main character is a 50 year old woman who has spent her life studying these incredible metaphysical poems about life, God and death,” Kephart explained, “and she thinks she knows an awful lot about them until she is given this diagnosis of terminal cancer. That in itself contains the irony where she thought she understood life and death until she is confronted with this disease.”

To prepare herself for the role, Dr. Suzanne O’Brien, the associate dean of instruction and university center at SC4, shaved her head and rose over $1,000 in funding for the Relay for Life and Betty Kearns Little Black Dress, which are events that promote cancer awareness and take place in the local community.

“Everybody is connected to cancer in some way, and so many of my close friends have been affected,” O’Brien said, “I hope this served as a way for people to share and create dialogue about the issues addressed in the play.”

The response to the play was emotional for many. During the talkback session with the staff on the Thursday showing, multiple members of the audience shared about their experience with cancer or with their loved ones who had gone through similar experiences as the character in the play.

However, one impression stood out as the most frequent. Joe Munoz, a student studying business in SC4 summed it up: “That is what happened. I wasn’t watching the play; I was watching my mother-in-law passing away.”

He concluded by saying “at the end, I went to the actress in tears and thanked her for bringing me closure. She put her arms around me and even though we didn’t know each other, it felt like I was hugging my mother-in-law for the last time.”

Erick J. Fredendall

Business/Advertising Editor

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