By Jessica Klarp
The Black Mountain Center for the Arts Theatre (BMCAT) is pleased to present Wit by Margaret Edson, the first production of BMCAT’s seventh season. The production runs for three weekends: Friday and Saturday, October 11–12, 18–19 and 25–26, at 7:30 p.m. with Sunday matinees on October 13, 20 and 27, at 2 p.m.
A winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Wit introduces its audience to Dr. Vivian Bearing, a brilliant and uncompromising professor of English literature who has spent years specializing in the Holy Sonnets of John Donne. Vivian has been diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer. She agrees to undergo an experimental chemotherapy treatment that, although not guaranteed to save her, will provide excellent research data for the future of oncology. Once the teacher, she is now the student, learning everything she can about the disease and constantly at the mercy of the doctors in authority. Over the course of her treatment, she begins to seek the warmth and care that, in her quest for excellence, she denied her students during her many years of teaching. Wit is a poignant and humorous look at life, death, poetry and compassion.
“Wit is a wondrous piece of theatre,” says BMCAT artistic director Matt Lutz, who chose the play. “And playwright Margaret Edson is a wonder. An elementary school teacher, she has had one play published—and it won the Pulitzer Prize. So that obviously speaks to her brilliance. I cannot wait for our audience to experience her take on life and death, both tragic and funny, through the eyes and mouth of Dr. Vivian Bearing, one of the great female roles in modern theatre.”
The multi-talented Betsy Puckett is directing the show. She is familiar to audiences for her character Augusta Wind on the LaZoom tours, for her storytelling prowess, for her varied characters on local commercials and for her outrageous costumes contributed to Asheville Community Theatre’s annual costume drama.
“I have been in awe of Wit since the first time I saw it almost 20 years ago,” says Puckett. “To have the opportunity to direct such a well-written, female-driven work is a rare opportunity and a true honor. It is difficult to find anyone whose life hasn’t been touched by the cold and unfeeling freight train that is cancer, be you a warrior, survivor or part of the turbulent support network of a patient. My goal is to honor the multi-faceted experience of a journey with cancer with as much authenticity as possible. My hope is that the audience will walk away with a desire to talk to one another about their experience.”
Those familiar with the vibrant, quality theater produced at the Arts Center over the years will notice a name change. “We felt that The Front Porch Theatre sounded too restrictive for the level of theatre and range of subject matter we have been producing under artistic director Matt Lutz,” says BMCA executive director Lori Cozzi. “The Black Mountain Center for the Arts Theatre is less confusing for our patrons and allows us to think bigger than our previous name.” Don’t miss the opportunity to connect with this powerful work and be a part of the conversation.