by Leslie M. Estrada
For viewers who are not familiar with cancer and who are not aware of what to expect, “Wit” provided a fairly well-rounded perspective on what occurs in the life of a person who is dying of cancer.
The main character in the play is a woman, who is diagnosed with ovarian cancer in its fourth stage.
The highly-acclaimed reading starred Jane Dibbell, associate professor of theater arts at the University of La Verne.
What made the play significant was how Dibbell, much like the fictional character she played, also had a personal battle with cancer.
“I think one of the things that the theater can do is bypass the cerebral/intellectual aspect of the situation,” Dibbell said in a recent interview quoted in the program.
Dibbell has struggled with breast cancer throughout her teaching career at ULV. Regardless of her lessened strength and frailness due to her illness, she was still willing to take part in a performance that she related to, to the fullest extent.
“This production has given a whole different perspective on how to live with my disease,” Dibbell said after the performance.
The production focuses on Dibbell’s character, a woman who discussed the long, painful, yet inspiring tale of having to deal with this incurable disease.
Her character goes through many stages of the illness. Everything from being the guinea pig of various tests to being subjected to the different types of chemotherapy treatment.
In addition to the physical changes that result from cancer treatments, including hair loss and the shut down of one’s immune system, Dibbell also presented the negative side of cancer when she shared the emotional strain and solitude that cancer patients are faced with on a daily basis.
Her acting prevailed in this documentary, showing her strength and determination, which resulted in a moved and emotional audience.
Dibbell enlightened her audience, as well as the ULV community, with spirit, courage and mortality.
It was Dibbell’s last words of the evening that kept the audience in awe. The strength of her statement, “You should never have to go through it alone,” emphasized how vital it is for a person who is faced with cancer, or any other incurable disease, to be alone or to have to struggle for survival in complete loneliness.
After the performance, Dibbell offered herself to an open discussion for any questions her audience had. Every audience member remained seated, so they could listen to Dibbell’s personal perspective toward the disease.