Though New York will get a taste of Margaret Edson's Wit this fall, Lenox, MA's Shakespeare & Company can sample it first, when Wit goes up Aug. 7-Sept. 6 at the company's Stables Theatre.
Wit won the L.A. Critics Circle Award for Edson's humorous and harrowing study of the journey of English Literature professor Vivian Bearing through her bout with ovarian cancer. Wit also won several Connecticut Critics Circle Awards (including Outstanding Production) for its 1997 mounting at the Long Wharf Theatre. That production, directed by Derek Anson-Jones, will transfer to Manhattan Class Company with mostly the same cast (including Kathleen Chalfant), Sept. 9-Oct. 4. (Wit, by the way, will also get a staging at WA's Seattle Rep in `99-00.)
Wit is Edson's first play, based in part on her experiences working at the AIDS Inpatient Unit of the National Institutes of Health. Today Edson teaches first grade in Washington, DC.
Starring in the Shakespeare & Company mounting are the troupe's artistic director Tina Packer, Dennis Krausnick, Francis West (as Dr. Bearing), Elizabeth Aspenlieder, John Beale, Marybeth Bentwood, Josef Hansen and Marc Scipione. Director Daniela Varon says of the play, "Like John Donne's poetry, Wit explores nothing less than life, death and eternal life. It also explores the difference between examining these themes intellectually and confronting them experientially."
Designing the production are Govane Lohbauer (costumes), Kiki Smith (set), Mark Huang (sound) and Stephen Ball (lighting). *
In other Shakespeare & Company news, the troupe -- which plays out of novelist Edith Wharton's Lenox, MA, home The Mount -- has returned to what it knows best (next to the Bard) with its "Wharton One-Acts," which opened July 10.
The evening's title notwithstanding, only one of the plays is by Wharton. The Dilettante, adapted by Allyn Burrows, is based on a short about the deep, yet unconsummated, love between widow Margaret Vervain and Thursdale Pemberton, a dilettante who eventually betrays her by marrying another. The production's second one-act is taken from Guy de Maupassant's The Mistress, concerning an estranged Paris couple whose marriage more resembles a legal partnership than a union of love. Richard S. Burdick adapted the work.
Cecil MacKinnon directs both plays. Antonia Freeland and John Sarrouf are featured in The Mistress, while The Dilettante stars Marybeth Bentwood, Diane Prusha, and Sarrouf. The double bill runs through Sept. 5. For information, call (413) 637-3353.