A renowned professor of English, who has spent years studying and teaching the brilliant and difficult metaphysical sonnets of John Donne, has been diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer. Over the course of the play, she reflects on her life through the intricacies of the English language, especially the use of “wit” in the metaphysical poetry of John Donne. She recites portions of Donne’s Holy Sonnet X, “Death Be Not Proud,” while reflecting upon her condition. As her illness progresses, she begins to reassess her life and her work with a profundity and humor that are transformative both for her and the audience.
*SLO REP is partnering with French Hospital’s Hearst Cancer Resource Center and Wilshire Hospice to present this realistic, yet ultimately hopeful and uplifting story. There will be three post-show “talk-backs” with the cast, director and representatives from Wilshire Hospice and/or the Hearst Cancer Resource Center after the following matinee performances: Sunday, May 1, Saturday, May 7 and Saturday May 14. All matinee performances begin at 2 pm and talk-backs will take place immediately following the performance, at approximately 3:45 pm.
Rated PG-13 for limited strong language and brief nudity. Please click the “PG-13” icon above right for more information.
Holy Sonnet X: “Death Be Not Proud”
by John Donne
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou are not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou’art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy’or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.
Jamie Foster Photography
Every once in a while a play comes along that bonds people together in extraordinary ways...not a tearful lecture on how to die, it’s a dry-eyed lesson on how to live—with simplicity and kindness.
– The Boston Globe
To say that Wit is about cancer is misleading; it is really about finding a balance between head and heart.
– Boston Critic
Megan C.C. Walker
Lab Techs & Students
Arisa Bega, Felicia Hall, Bobby Kendrick, Megan Schreiber
Additional Support provided through Wilshire Hospice and by the Hearst Cancer Resource Center at French Hospital
Presented through special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc.