Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Theatre Arts


Margaret Edson's Pulitzer Prize winning play, Wit, centers on Vivian Bearing's struggle with a terminal disease in the last year of her life. Bearing, who is a Professor of English literature specializing in the "Holy Sonnets" of John Donne, has been diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer. She agrees to be part of an experimental chemotherapy treatment. Throughout the play, Edson makes use of Donne's poetry and her own knowledge of cancer to create Vivian's journey as she lives the last few months of her life as a research subject. My dramaturgical approach to the play calls for research on the life and writing of John Donne, particularly the "Holy Sonnets", and a description of ovarian cancer. My aim in this thesis will be to provide a script analysis and a detailed explanation of John Donne and ovarian cancer along with a description of my production duties for the production of Wit at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, North Dakota, in October 2001.