“As someone who does community theater, a community theater actress, it’s an amazing ... [and] a very challenging role,” Young said. “It’s very emotional, cancer it’s a scary word to start with and then when someone tells you, ‘You have cancer and it’s already at a terminal [point]’ — I think that certainly, wow, kind of rocks you.
“Just for me personally, to be barefooted in a hospital gown, [wearing a] bald [cap], needing to be sick in a realistic way, being on medications, being given chemotherapy — which of course makes you sick, makes you nauseous and throw up — [is challenging to portray]. Then when she gets to a point where she’s in pain, [I try] to access that emotion and portray that in a realistic way that honors the journey that people make without being overly dramatic — being able to do that effectively.”
To be presented by The Pumphouse Players, “Wit” will be held Sept. 21, 22, 28 and 29 at 8 p.m. at The Legion Theatre, 114 W. Main St. in Cartersville. Joining Young in the nine-member cast will be Dana O’Bryan as Susie Monahan; Ian Gibson as Dr. Jason Posner; Chris Bern as Dr. Harvey Kelekian and Mr. Bearing; Sandy Cunningham as Professor E. M. Ashford; and Doug Cardoza, Katy Gramling, Zachary Planchet and Craig Popham will play various smaller parts.
“‘Wit’ is about a professor of literature, specifically of the ‘Holy Sonnets’ of John Donne,” said Meghann K. Humphreys, director of ‘Wit.’ “She’s always been very much so in control of her life. Everything has been planned out, everything is very controlled but she left out a couple of important things out of her life. She has left out personal relationships and she’s left out going to the doctor as regularly as she should, which kind of leads her to this predicament.
“She has been diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer. The prospects are looking very dim for surviving this and as she is dealing with this impending ultimate outcome — it’s very obvious what it’s going to be — she reflects on her life and she does it actually somewhat humorously. There are some more dramatic moments but she’s able to find some levity and she’s able to use her wit to cope with this pretty dire situation.”
Connecting to the play’s script, Humphreys was inspired to bring the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama to the Cartersville stage.
“I chose this play because I did actually experience losing a friend, a fellow parishioner, back in 2010,” Humphreys said. “He was very young and it was quite shocking to know someone at the age of 30 to die of cancer, pancreatic cancer specifically for him. It was just a bit shocking to know that science couldn’t prevail.
“And the thing is a lot of the actors in the play have started sharing their own personal stories ... [and] it almost feels like a way for them to kind of cope with that loss. I know my assistant director, her mother-in-law died from cancer a few years ago. Pretty much everyone in the cast knows someone who has been affected by cancer. It just has really seemed like a way for them to kind of deal with that. ... It’s funny how art can help us cope with these scary and sad situations,” she said, adding The Pumphouse Players will submit “Wit” for Metropolitan Atlanta Theater Awards consideration, which recognizes plays and individual performances in community and non-union professional theater.
Tickets for “Wit” are $14 for general admission, $12 for pre-paid groups of 10 or more patrons or FlexPass holders, and $10 for PHP members. For more information about the PHP’s offering or to obtain tickets, visit www.pumphouseplayers.com or call 770-387-2610.