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Fine... I'll Talk With You(2019)Description / Buy at Amazon

Margaret Edson
Margaret Edson was born July 4, 1961 in Washington, D. C. She earned degrees in literature and history, and became a public school teacher in 1992.

She was the second child born to a newspaper columnist named Peter Edson (a newspaper columnist) and a social worker named Joyce Winifred Edson (a medical social worker).

Much like her protagonist in “Wit”, Margaret is well acquainted with academia. A graduate of Sidwell Friends School, which is a Quaker run private school in Washington, where she’d been active in the drama program, she enrolled at Smith College in Massachusetts in the year 1979, earning her degree in Renaissance history in the year 1983. Edson, after she graduated, moved to Iowa City, Iowa, where her sister was living, and took a job selling hot dogs during the day and tended bar during the night time.

She returned to her hometown, and got a job as a unit clerk in the cancer and AIDS treatment wing of a research hospital. Margaret subsequently moved to the St. Francis Center (later called the Wendt Center for Loss and Healing), where she worked on producing grant proposals. At this point in time, she chose to pursue a doctorate in literature, however first wanted to pen a play. She worked at a bicycle store in Washington and spent the entire summer of 1991 writing the play’s first draft.

She enrolled at Georgetown University’s graduate program for English during the fall of 1991. During this time, she volunteered at a DC elementary school. After earning a master’s degree, Margaret chose to become an elementary school teacher and got admitted to an alternative certification program within the DC Public Schools. For six years, she taught English as a Second Language and first grade in DC Public Schools.

Margaret sent the text of “Wit” off to sixty theaters across the country. It finally got accepted in 1995, by the South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, California. The SCR’s artistic team worked with Edson to condense her two act play down into just one act. The revised “Wit” was produced at SCR in 1995 and wound up winning the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards for Writing, Direction (Martin Benson), Production, and Lead Performance (Megan Cole). It also won the Ted Schmitt Award.

Despite the play’s success at SCR, there were other theater companies that were reluctant to produce the play. In 1997, Derek Anson Jones was selected by the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut, to create a new production of her play. It opened in November of 1997, directed by Jones and starred Kathleen Chalfant.

Kathleen would champion the play and it would be produced by the Off-Broadway Manhattan Class Company in September of 1998 at the MCC Theater and it opened at the Union Square Theatre on October 6, 1998 and closed after 545 performances on April 9, 2000, getting positive reviews.

Farrar, Straus, and Giroux published the play in the year 1999. On the cover of the book, the use of a semicolon in place of the letter i gives W;t as one representation of the title of the play. In the context of the play, the semicolon refers to the recurring theme of the use of a semicolon in one of John Donne’s Holy Sonnets.

Since producing the play, she’s continued teaching without any plans of writing another play. Margaret teaches social studies to sixth graders at Atlanta’s public David T. Howard Middle School, and before Inman Middle School in the Virginia-Highland neighborhood of Atlanta was enfolded into Howard, teaching the same subject and grade at Inman. She also taught at John Hope Elementary School in Atlanta, Georgia.

“Wit” is a play that was released in 1995. Margaret’s powerfully imagined play examines what makes life worth living through her exploration of one of existence’s unifying experiences: mortality, as she also probes deeper into the vital importance of human relationships.

What we her audience take away from this remarkable drama is a much keener sense that, as death is unavoidable and real, our lives are ours for us to cherish or throw out, a lesson which can be both redemptive and uplifting. Like the playwright herself puts it: this play isn’t about doctors or even cancer. Instead it is about kindness, however it shows arrogance. It is about compassion, yet shows insensitivity.

In this play, Margaret dives into timeless questions without final answers. How should we live our lives knowing that we’re going to die? Is the way that we live our lives and interact with others that much more important than what we achieve professionally, materially, or intellectually?

And how does language figure into our lives? Can art and science even help us conquer death, or even our fear of it? What’ll seem to be the most important to each one of us about life while that life comes to an end?

The immediacy of the presentation, and the elegance and clarity of Edson’s writing, make this multilayered and sophisticated play accessible to just about any interested reader.

While the play begins, Vivian Bearing, who is a renowned English professor that has spent years teaching and studying the intricate, tough Holy Sonnets of John Donne (seventeenth century poet) has been diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer. Confident of her own ability to remain in control of events, she brings to her illness the same painstakingly methodical and intensely rational approach which has guided her through her stellar academic career.

However while her disease and its excruciatingly painful course of treatment progress, she starts questioning the single-minded values and standards which have always guided and directed her, finally coming to understand the aspects of life which make it really worth living.

Winner of the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, the Oppenheimer Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award, the Pulitzer Prize, the Drama Desk Award, and the Lucille Lortel Award.

The HBO film version won the Emmy Award for the Best Made-for-TV Film in the year 2001, which was written by Emma Thompson and Mike Nichols, who also directed the play, with Thompson starring. The play has gotten hundreds of stage productions in dozens of languages.

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