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St. John’s Players explore cancer and reflection with Pulitzer-winning ‘Wit’

Story of courage hits stage

The St. John’s Players theatre troupe hopes to mesh entertainment and cancer education with its production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Wit” this weekend.
The one-act play is a tale of courage and reflection, following university professor Vivian Bearing through the final stage of ovarian cancer.
Bearing has agreed to eight rounds of an experimental chemotherapy treatment, knowing her doctors are interested in her case for educational purposes. After braving the treatment, Bearing learns her cancer has not eased and there’s nothing more that can be done. From her hospital bed, she reflects on her life and choices through flashbacks, reciting poet John Donne’s “Death Be Not Proud.”
Written by American playwright Margaret Edson — who reportedly drew on her experience working in a hospital to create the play — “Wit” debuted in California in 1995 and had an off-Broadway run in New York three years later. The play won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was adapted into an Emmy Award-winning TV movie starring Emma Thompson in 2001.
Six years ago, “Wit” saw a three-month run on Broadway, starring Cynthia Nixon of “Sex and the City” fame. The play was nominated for two Tony Awards that year.
St. John’s Players bills itself as the province’s oldest theatre company, established in 1937.
Directed by Louise Kearley, the St. John’s Players opened “Wit” at the Barbara Barrett Theatre in the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre Thursday evening, and included an information booth by the Newfoundland and Labrador chapter of the Canadian Cancer Society.

The play will run until Sunday. Tickets are $35 regular admission, $25 for seniors and $15 for students (including HST and surcharge) and are available at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre box office, by calling 729-3900 and online at

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