BCU continuing education student Joey Myers, left, is starring in "Wit," a local theatre production about an ailing cancer patient. The show is sponsored in part by BCU's Department of Nursing.
Photo by Kay Kemmet, Weekender Magazine
It’s difficult for Dale Hartshorn to watch his acting cohort and fiance Joey Myers lay in bed, seemingly in pain, and not be able to do anything to help.
It doesn’t matter that a now-bald Myers — with prickly black stubble where long thick brown hair used to be — only acts as if she is in pain taking on the role of terminally ill cancer patient Vivian Bearing in Shot in the Dark Production’s “Wit.” (The show opened on Friday, Nov. 8, at the Evelyn Larson Theatre.)
Watching Myers, a loved one, step into the role of a woman suffering, dying, brings back tragic memories for Hartshorn.
Both have watched loved ones suffer and die of cancer -- a feeling they said can’t be understood by those who haven’t experienced it first hand.
“I remember watching my dad disconnect,” Myers said.
TIME: 8 p.m.
DATES: Nov. 8, 9, 15, 16, 22 & 24*
PLACE: Evelyn Larson Theater
TICKETS: $15 for adults, $10 for students
*Nov. 24 showing is at 2:30 p.m.LEARN MORE
Her father died two years ago after a long battle with lung, prostate and pancreatic cancer. Myers held back tears while talking about her father.
While Myers watched her father battle cancer, Hartshorn saw his wife suffer of primary peritoneal cancer, a disease similar to the ovarian cancer Myer’s character, Vivian Bearings, suffers from in “Wit.”
He watched his wife go bald and lay in the hospital for months. He cared for her while she faded away, in the same way Bearings fades away in the play.
To say the performance hits close to home for Hartshorn could be an understatement.
“It wouldn’t be so bad, but she does it so well,” Hartshorn said of Myers' performance.
In the show, Vivian Bearings is diagnosed with metastatic Stage IV ovarian cancer, described in the production as an “insidious” disease.
She undergoes eight cycles of rigorous treatment under advisement of a cold and methodical researcher who treats Bearings more like a lab rat then a person. The treatment causes fever, chills, vomiting and abdominal pain.
The production chronicles her final two hours of life.
With Bearings’ opening monologue, she gives away the ending of the show. She admits the one-act play will probably end in her death.
The June E. Nylen Cancer Center sponsors the show, and Briar Cliff University’s College of Nursing donated the medical instruments used to bring the show to life including two hospital gowns Myers wears throughout the performance.