That’s (very roughly, and probably nowhere near accurate to be honest…) the amount of time Amber and her cast mates at Pullman Civic Theatre (PCT) spent over about a two month period of rehearsing, preparing, and performing in their production of Wit. Some, I’m sure, spent MUCH more time than that.
When you factor in working full time jobs, and/or going to school, and for some members raising a family, and trying to maintain some form of a social life, that is a monstrous commitment. Add on that these people are putting in these hours voluntarily out of a sheer love for theatre, it becomes even more impressive.
Under the tutelage of talented director Gary Thoren, PCT put on their production of Wit, which was originally written by Margaret Edson and won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, over the previous two weekends, and I was able to attend two showings of the play. Wit is about a university English professor named Vivian Bearing, who is in her final hours, dying of ovarian cancer. The play is very funny, dark, intelligent, and heart-wrenching at times, and the cast and crew of PCT did an exceptional job with the production.
I feel that these people who pour their hearts and souls into these productions don’t get as much recognition as they should, so I want to give them a heavy (figurative) round of applause for all their hard work.
Char Fluster played the show’s lead as Vivian Bearing, and she gave an incredible performance through all seven showings (I only saw the two myself, but the consensus was that each performance was as-good or better than the previous). Her character, being a highly regarded English professor, had an extremely advanced vocabulary, and Char had long strings of very heavy dialogue throughout the show. It must have been an incredibly difficult task not only to memorize it all, but keep all the dialogue in the correct places throughout the production.
There were also scenes, particularly toward the end of the show, that were very emotional, and Char brought that emotion to the stage each and every time, often moving many of the audience members to tears. I can only imagine the emotional toll a role like this must have taken throughout the rehearsals and performances. Char’s performance was truly incredible.
Travis Gray, who has an MFA from the University of Idaho and taught the acting class Amber and I took at the beginning of 2018, was also in the play, and put on a wonderful performance.
His character was not a very likable person. He played one of the doctors, Jason Posner, who was very analytical and results driven. While those can be positive qualities, particularly for a researcher, it also caused the character to lack empathy for his patients, illustrating something that many people with medical problems encounter with providers who seem not to care much for the wellbeing of their patients, but are rather only concerned with getting results and making progress in their personal research.
Travis fully embodied Jason Posner, and did a great job in creating a character that the audience loved to hate. He also delivered some of the funnier moments in the play alongside Char.
Amber, of course, was my favorite in the play, but I guess I’m a little biased there. And I’m thankful each and every day that her “valley girl” accent from one scene in the play was for the show only, and not her normal way of speaking…I’m incredibly proud of her for all the work she put into this while staying on top of her work, health, and cutting out time to spend with Maizy, Rudy, and myself. I can’t wait to see what she does next with PCT.
While I could go on about other individual performances from the show, I’ll wrap things up by saying the rest of the cast all did incredible things to contribute to a wonderful experience for the audience members, and their hard work shone through on the stage. I can’t wait to see what PCT has in store next, and maybe someday I’ll get up the guts to audition for a production myself.
My final message here to all of you is this: Go support your local arts! No matter where you live, there are hardworking actors, musicians, singers, and all sorts of other artists pouring their hearts into the crafts they are passionate about, and the mass majority are doing so for little or no pay.
There’s nothing more pure than art that comes from a real place, deep in someone’s heart, with no ulterior motives (such as profit), just the desire to express one’s self through their chosen craft, and doing what they love.
Bravo, cast and crew of Wit, for another wonderful performance!
P.S. – Best line delivery of the play goes to Nick Mandel at the end of the play: “Called a code on a no-code.” So dry, yet so perfect.