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A Lesson About Dying


originally posted October 19, 2000

ANN ARBOR, MI - University of Michigan medical students and others will have a unique chance to explore issues surrounding terminal illness and end-of-life care on Nov. 1, through a special reading of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play "W;t!" and post-performance discussions being held at the U-M Health System.

The media and public are also invited to take advantage of the special performance, put on by Ann Arbor's Performance Network and sponsored by several U-M programs. The reading will begin at 1 p.m. in the Dow Auditorium of the Towsley Center, followed by one large and several small group sessions open to a limited number of interested viewers.

"W;t!", written by Margaret Edson, won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for drama and had a successful run on Broadway. It centers around a college professor's experience with terminal breast cancer as she navigates the medical system and her own emotional response to her condition.

The reading is co-sponsored by the U-M's Life Sciences, Values and Society Program, the Program in Society and Medicine, and the newly launched Bioethics Program. Its organizers hope it will stimulate the students and others to examine the nexus of art, medicine and compassion at the end of life.

"'W;t!' is a powerful, realistic portrayal of death in America," says Susan Goold, M.D., MHSA, M.S., director of the Bioethics Program and technical advisor to the Performance Network. "Since the patient and the doctors are academics, Ann Arbor audiences will especially enjoy the dry humor at their expense."

The Performance Network's fully staged production of "W;t!", starring Jan Radcliff and directed by Mary Locker, will also run at its Ann Arbor playhouse from Oct. 26 to Nov. 19. More information is available here . U-M physicians and others have provided props and guidance on medical issues to the performers.


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