According to Margaret Edson, her play Wit somehow just popped into her head. In an article written by CNN's Jamie Allen, Edson says, "You're just writing down the things people say…. That seems very interesting and natural to me…. I'm fascinated how people's spoken language expresses their own selves. So to write a play you just have to listen." And according to all the critical praise (not to mention the Pulitzer Prize), Edson must be a very good listener.
Edson did most of her listening for this play while working in the cancer ward of a research hospital. Here she was forced to witness the dilemmas that face both the patient and the patient's medical team in dealing with acute disease, the application of radical medical treatment, and the effects of these treatments on the patient's life, as well as the constant awareness of the possibility of imminent death. The main character in Edson's play has ovarian cancer, a type of cancer that, if it is not caught in the initial stages, few women survive. In order for research doctors to find a cure, they must experiment with different kinds of drug treatments. Edson's play looks at the ethics behind this need and the consequences of this need upon the patient
Although the topic of the play sounds grim, Edson says that the play is about love and knowledge, grace and redemption. She uses the word wit not so much to convey a sense of comedy (although there are several moments of intelligent humor) but rather to reflect the natural ability to perceive and understand. In order to convey all these concepts, Bdson says, she had to write about their opposites. "So the play is about miscommunication and misunderstanding and posturing and arrogance." During an interview with Charles Osgood on CBS News' Sunday Morning, Edson states, "It's about everything that's the opposite of grace and kindness."
The play is a play about death and dying, but what seems to have impressed audiences is the lesson the play presents for the living. The London Times sums up the play as being "moving, funny and wise about the limitations of the intellect and the value of the heart." Wit has been produced all over America as well as in international theaters.