Shorewood High school drama kicked off the 2015-16 season with an incredible production of Wit, featuring a talented cast of 15 students. As the lead Vivian Bearing, Ella Curran, senior, had a stellar performance.
“It was such a fantastic experience, all about the power of spoken word. The power and love of language is something I liked best,” Curran said.
In Wit, by Margaret Edson, Curran played the role of a college English professor with stage IV ovarian cancer. Revealing right at the beginning that her doctors were just emotionless researchers and that she was to die, the audience was drawn in. Following the scene where Bearing throws up, she is describing how lonely she feels and says, “‘Brevity is the soul of wit,”’ Curran’s favorite line that also hit home with the audience, reminding us just how little time we have.
Curran and castmates had originally mentioned some anxiety about the hundreds of lines she would need to memorize over such a short span of time, but the straight 80 minutes Curran was on stage flowed without a pause or hitch.
“I slipped up a couple times. I was bound to slip up but no one seemed to care, as I had to memorize almost the entire script,” Curran said.
“All of the words Ella had to memorize were long, complicated and often medical terms, she did an amazing job at remembering all of them. I also loved the scene where she was suddenly interrupted in her classroom, it was such a metaphor to her life, suddenly interrupted,” said Clarity Seigh, freshman.
The entire audience was seated on stage, in a semi-circle form called thrust seating, which allowed the actors to interact to audience.
“One of my favorite parts was the lecture scene in the second half, where I was able to rat out and tease teachers and friends,” Curran said.
The intimate environment left much of the audience crying at the conclusion.
“Another thought provoking moment was when nurse [played by Claire Evans, junior] was talking to Vivian about how we often try and think too much, wondering at what point we stop over-analyzing things and start learning,” said Rachel Robrecht, junior.
Evans was perfect for the role of Susie Monahan, R.N., providing comfort and care throughout the emotional ride of the show.
“The popsicle scene [with Claire] was very sweet and tender. It felt very real to me, and I enjoyed getting to eat a popsicle every night,” Curran said.
To the audience there were no apparent flaws. Yet what went on backstage was a different story.
“Ikshvak Sobti, assistant stage manager, fell and hit his head really badly,” said Kaya Schwartz, freshman. “He had to have staples! He was sobbing and it was crazy. Many people also messed up their lines, and there were a few blackouts that just never happened,” said Finn Rowden, freshman.
“I was adjusting my hospital socks and the stretcher tipped over and I fell off of it. I still have a cut on my leg, but we had to keep the scene going. It was really hard not to break character and start laughing,” Curran said.
“I wouldn’t change the experience of playing Vivian for the world.” Curran said. “It was stressful at times and I did cry because I was so worried that I wouldn’t learn the lines on time. I thought more than once that I wouldn’t be able to do it but I did and I’m so glad. It really was the experience of a lifetime.”
by Olivia Poole and Abby Widell