Is there satisfaction in being a one-hit wonder?
By Kimberly Lew (Playwright/Blogger)
Wit, written by Margaret Edson, has always unquestionably been one of my favorite plays, but I have always been somewhat hesitant to call Edson one of my favorite playwrights. It's not because I don't like any of her other works-- it's just that there aren't necessarily other works to speak of. Wit, a Pulitzer-winning play, was Edson's first and only produced piece. Can you consider a playwright a personal favorite based on just one play?
What if that one play is an exceptional one? Having pored over the text and immersed myself in the HBO movie starring Emma Thompson, seeing the current production of Wit on Broadway was a revelation. And while I think the production is great, the thing I realized as I watched the show was that the play itself is as close to perfection as I know.
I don't say this lightly. Having read hundreds of plays in my life and career, very few match the precision, imagination, and human truth that Wit does. The very title alone is incredibly ambitious and yet a self-fulfilling prophecy -- every moment of the play is a product of wit: perfect timing, intelligence, humor, and humanity combined in a stringing of words. The woman makes John Donne's work seem accessible, for Chrissakes, and for that alone this play deserves a medal of honor.
But besides the piece itself, I think a lot about Edson. I wonder what it's like to write such a singularly meaningful piece and what it's like to leave it at that. If it were me, would I wonder if I had another amazing play in me? Would I feel like I didn't cash in on the opportunities that could have been in my future? Or is it possible to look at your own work objectively and know that I've achieved everything I needed to and truly move on?
In my own writing, when I step back and look at my work objectively, I know I haven't written my Wit yet-- which is not to mean that I will ever write something as great as Wit, but more that I have not yet written what I believe will be my best work. They say that one of the biggest secrets of being a writer is just that you have to keep writing, and I wholly believe that sentiment. But Margaret Edson also makes me wonder if there can come a time when one can feel comfortable putting the pen and paper aside-- if, perhaps, there can be peace in knowing you've achieved something great and letting it be.
KIMBERLY LEW is a playwright with two published one-act plays for high schools, as well as full-length Searching for Candi (co-written with Gabriella Miyares), which had its first production at Mt. Holyoke college in April 2011. Her latest play, Other People's Children, will have a reading on February 26th as a part of The Beautiful Soup Theater Collective's new works reading series. She also created/manages the Emerging Musical Theatre blog. www.kimberlylew.com
EMAIL HER | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | OTHER POSTS BY THIS AUTHOR