2nd Stage

The 1999 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Drama
Margaret Edson

Directed b; Margaret Schugt
Produced b;
Susan A. Lyon

“[A] brutally human and beautifully layered new play…you feel both enlightened and, in a strange way, enormously comforted.”
– New York Times

“A dazzling and humane new play that you will remember till your dying day.” – New York Times Magazine

Vivian Bearing, Ph.D., 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. Her approach to the study of Donne: aggressively probing, intensely rational. But during the course of her illness – and her stint as a prize patient in an experimental chemotherapy program at a major teaching hospital – Vivian comes to reassess her life and her work with a profundity and humor that are transformative both for her and the audience. In her extraordinary first play, Margaret Edson has created a work that is as intellectually challenging as it is emotionally immediate.

Winner of the
1999 Pulitzer Prize for Drama
Winner of the
Lucille Lortel Award for Best Play

May 21, 2004 to June 26, 2004

Fridays and Saturdays evenings at 8:00 p.m. &
Sunday afternoon matinees on May 23, June 6, and June 20 at 2:00 p.m.


Cathy Canetti • Diana Mann • John Mann • Susie McCarthy
Heather Ryon • John StricklandBill Strongin


There are certain dramatic roles that are so demanding, so intense, so intellectually challenging and emotionally charged that they require consummately experienced actors to put them across. Emerging talents are seldom (if ever) able to plumb the depth of complex chracters such as Hamlet, Hedda, Cyrano, Blache, or Nora. Nor do we expect them to. Now, along comes Susie McCarthy to correct that conception. Cast here as Vivian Bearing in Margaret Edson’s staggering, Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, McCarthy’s performance is, in a word, “electrifying.”

– Shirle Gottlieb, from her review in Back Stage West published May 26, 2004

Susie McCarthy as Dr. Bearing definitely carries the show. Though there are many other characters involved, it is her story and it is she who completely commands the stage. She becomes Dr. Bearing and we become her students. Her talent, focus, and unadulterated compassion and passion for her role were nothing short of remarkable. Other strong performances came from John Mann as Dr. Kelekian, Diana Mann as Professor E.M. Ashford, and Heather Ryon as Susie Monahan. … Be forewarned, however, that W;t is not an easy play to sit and watch. It digs, digs, and digs until it tugs at our heartstrings and until we learn the lessons we need to learn about life, love, patience, compassion, and reality. These are lessons we must not miss. These are emotions we must experience. These are realities we must face. Believe in yourself and trust yourself enough to take that journey with the cast of W;t. It is a show that should not be missed.

– Deanna Alisa Ableser, from her review in Easy Reader published June 3, 2004

Powerful struggle of life against death … So let’s face it, the success of this production of “W;t” depends on the dramatic skills of the person portraying Vivian. That actress must have the ability to touch our hearts and excite our minds simultaneously. She has to make us believe that Vivian’s entire life was ennobled by the research of esoteric poetry even as she is dying before our eyes. From the minute the cold, penetrating spotlight hits the bare feet of the bald cancer patient hooked up to the intravenous machine, Susie McCarthy commands the stage and every person in the audience.

– Shirle Gottlieb, from her review in the Long Beach Press-Telegram published May 28, 2004

Powerful Wit … The Palos Verdes Players 2nd Stage bids its current location adieu with the powerful production of Margaret Edson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play “W;t.” … “W;t” is skillfully directed by Margaret Schugt, who is aided by a phenomenal script and a talented cast. Schugt’s production is commanding and intense, skillfully maneuvering between the simple and the complicated with realism, humanity and delicacy. Primarily set in a cancer unit, “W;t” follows the life and excruciating death of Vivian Bearing, Ph.D., brilliantly portrayed by Susie McCarthy. … Once again, the Players 2nd Stage makes good on its commitment to diverse material, staging small plays that engage active audiences, participating in edgy themes or complex ideas; plays that prompt thoughtful analysis and promote discussion on the way home. “W;t” does a wonderful job of engaging its audience members and taking them along to thoughtfully analyze and experience the life and death of Dr. Vivian Bearing.

– Brenda Arrieta, from her article in Beach Reporter published June 4, 2004

Donne deal: Poet’s work at heart of Pulitzer Prize-winning play … Margaret Schugt is … a perfect fit for the Palos Verdes Players’ 2nd Stage, a small theater that dares to push buttons to provoke thought, as demonstrated by the recently staged “Sexual Perversity in Chicago” and “Burn This,” not exactly your average community theater fare. … Some are surprised that the Palos Verdes Players was able to secure the rights to the play. “My guess is that it hadn’t been done in Los Angeles for a long time,” Schugt said. “And I understand why some may be scared to do it. I’ve never seen a play that is so intellectually challenging and emotionally immediate at the same time.

– Kari Sayers, from her article in Rave! published May 28, 2004

May 21, 2004 to June 26, 2004

Fridays and Saturdays evenings at 8:00 p.m. &
Sunday afternoon matinees on May 23, June 6, and June 20 at 2:00 p.m.

Tickets for “W;t” are now available for on-line purchase