Wit makes audience central to performance

When dealing with stage four ovarian cancer, like Vivian Bearing, there is no stage five. On October 8, the drama department will premier Wit.

(Shilei Bell-Lipsey) Ella Curran and Ryan Groeschel rehearse for the high school drama production of Wit, which will show from October 8th to the 10th.
(Shilei Bell-Lipsey) Ella Curran and Ryan Groeschel rehearse for the high school drama production of Wit, which will show from October 8th to the 10th.

Vivian Bearing, PhD, is a college English professor who specializes in John Donne sonnets, which are quoted often throughout the play. Knowing her situation is fairly dire, she offers herself up to experimental treatment.

According to Ella Curran, senior, and playing the role of Bearing’s, says her doctors are really scientists and researchers concerned with the results of the radiation, not the person going through so much pain.

“It will be difficult to not get emotional while doing it, but at the same time it will be empowering,” Curran said.

Confined often to her hospital room, the play follows Bearing’s eight-month journey and those involved: her students, mentors, and father.

“I saw Wit about fifteen years ago at a professional theatre in Denver, and I was moved to tears,” said Joe King, director. “I knew it was a show I wanted to recreate someday. Wit is not a show that high schools typically do.”

“It’s beautiful, it’s tough, and it’s going to hit home with a lot of people,” King said.

King is most excited for the “intimate” setting. The audience, one sixth of the usual size, will be up on stage with the actors in a form called thrust seating. Risers will be set around three sides of the stage allowing everyone to be up close and personal.

Ella Xistris, senior and a lead in the show, expressed a little concern about just how close the viewers will be.

“The costumes, the makeup, the wigs, will all have to be extremely lifelike,” Xistris said.

The cast of 14 will also be quite close, and both King and Xistris are excited to work with such a small group and have a little more sense of teamwork over the course of 22 rehearsals.

“I really felt that during the audition, Ella [Curran] understood the nuance of humor in the script,” said King, on the topic of casting the leads.

According to King, all the actors have to put in everything.

In the past month, Curran has had to memorize over 700 lines. Despite worries about the short time period over which she will need to memorize so much, Curran is very excited to connect with her character. Right from the start she could tell that her role, “is fiercely intelligent, and sarcastic, and strong,” Curran said.

Although specific details have yet to be disclosed, the cast of Wit will be teaming up with Shorewood High School Ovarian Club to raise money for cancer research and organizations around Milwaukee supporting women’s health.

The show will run from October 810 with shows everyday at 7:00 P.M. and a matinee at 2:00 P.M. on Sunday.

by Olivia Poole and Abby Widell

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