Black Mountain Center for the Arts Theatre presents 'Wit'

Special to Black Mountain News
Actor Tamara Rothman, who portrays English professor Dr. Vivian Bearing, is attended to by actor Sara Jobes during rehearsal for the play "Wit" by Margaret Edson. The play runs for three weekends in October.

The Black Mountain Center for the Arts Theatre opens its seventh season with a presentation of "Wit" by Margaret Edson. The production, which opened the first weekend of the month, continues with 7:30 p.m. showings, Oct. 18, 19, 25 and 26. Sunday matinees will run Oct. 20 and 27, at 2 p.m. 

The intimate space in the Arts Center was re-branded from the Front Porch Theatre to Black Mountain Center for the Arts Theatre. 

“It simplifies things,” said artistic director Matt Lutz. “It’s such a beautiful, versatile space within the vibrant Arts Center. We wanted the name to reflect that connection. We are excited to offer 'Wit' as our first show of the season.”

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, "Wit" introduces its audience to Dr. Vivian Bearing, a brilliant and uncompromising professor of English literature who has spent years specializing in the Holy Sonnets of John Donne.

Vivian has been diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer. She agrees to undergo an experimental chemotherapy treatment that, although not guaranteed to save her, will provide excellent research data for the future of oncology.

Once the teacher, she is now the student, learning everything she can about the disease and constantly at the mercy of the doctors in authority. Over the course of her treatment, she begins to seek the warmth and care that, in her quest for excellence, she denied her students during her many years of teaching.

"Wit" is a poignant and humorous look at life, death, poetry and compassion.

Asheville’s Betsy Puckett directs the piece. Puckett may be familiar to audiences for her character Augusta Wind on the LaZoom tours, for her storytelling prowess and her varied characters on local commercials. She has been familiar with the work since she saw it 20 years ago and feels honored to have the opportunity to direct such a well-written, female driven work.

“It is difficult to find anyone whose life hasn't been touched by the cold and unfeeling freight train that is cancer,” Puckett said, “be you a warrior, survivor or part of the turbulent support network of a patient. My goal is to honor the multi-faceted experience of a journey with cancer with as much authenticity as possible. My hope is that the audience will walk away with a desire to talk to one another about their experience.”

The cast includes Tamara Rothman as Dr. Vivian Bearing, Kelley Himan as Dr. Kelekian, Johnathan Rice as Dr. Jason Posner, Sara Jobes as Susie Monahan and CJ Breland as E.M. Ashford. Carson Graf and Jaime Lopez round out the ensemble. The beauty of community theatre is the range of experience to be found on stage; several of the cast have extensive resumes, three are returning to the BMCAT stage, and two are in a theatrical production for the first time.  

 There is another notable change at the Arts Center’s theatre space, in addition to the name change. Upon her retirement, the board of directors named the room for former Black Mountain Center for the Arts Executive Director Gale Jackson. A plaque above the door reflects that honor.

Tickets to "Wit" are $20 and can be purchased by calling 669-0930 or by visiting blackmountainarts.org.