You know that I would never say that cancer was a gift. You know I would be caught dead even thinking that good things (besides you guys of course) can come from cancer. Never, never, never, never, never! I never understood that point of view and while I respect it, I don’t connect with it. When I think of the good things in my life, I think that they happened in spite of cancer, not because of it. I don’t give cancer credit for anything except for all of the pain it has caused me, my family and friends. This doesn’t mean that I can’t let my experience with cancer inspire me to do some good in the world.
Many of you may know this about me (some of you might not) but my passion in life is the intersection of theatre and storytelling. I love hearing a good story. If I could just talk to people all day and hear about their lives, I’d be happy. If I could turn their stories into a piece of theatre, I’d be living my passion.
This summer, when I took my long blogging break, I wasn’t just on vacation. I took a week long intensive where I immersed myself in interview based/documentary theatre with the Ping Chong + Company. Ping Chong’s mission is to produce “theatrical works addressing the important cultural and civic issues of our times, striving to reach the widest audiences with the greatest level of artistic innovation and social integrity.” These can be done by using oral history projects or fuller scale, multidisciplinary productions. For me, oral history is where it’s at, and I learned how to interview individuals and turn their stories into theatre using his particular technique while infusing my own.
The goal of this is an idea that’s been brewing in my mind for a very long time and that I have finally started to pursue. I would like to create a theatrical piece (this can mean many things and look different ways) based on stories told by breast cancer survivors, caregivers, doctors, nurses, administrators, researchers, etc… If there is anything that I have learned from blogging and from reading everything that you all write, it’s that we all have powerful stories to tell. We are a community of strong women and men who share a common experience. And while we share a cancer diagnosis, the way we experience it, the way our families experience it, our treatment, our survivorship, our faith, our outlook are all unique. This has caused men and women our community to form close bonds. It has also caused tension and disagreement.
I believe that everyone’s story has worth and that if we listen to each other use theatre as a way to put ourselves in other people’s shoes, we can strengthen our community, learn from each other, gain a deeper understanding of the uniqueness of a common experience and develop a great sense of empathy for everyone who is in the breast cancer world.
Where am I with all of this? I’m at the very beginning. This blog post here is the first step I am taking into making this idea become a reality.
I have a seven year plan that I worked out with my therapist.
- Within the next few months, I am organizing myself. I am going to take classes in grant writing and looking for funding for this project. I’m going to try to become more computer savvy so I can organize my notes better. I want to find out and speak to people who may have done similar work. I want to start getting questions together for a first step interviewing process.
- The two year plan is to have my first production with men and women affected by breast cancer. This included survivors, caregivers, widows and widowers, doctors, nurses, administrators, researchers, etc… A production can be a reading for a small group of friends or can be a mounted theatrical piece where a wider audience is invited.
- The five-seven year plan is that this work continues and evolves. I would like it to tour hospitals around the country and around the world. I would also like to do workshops where men and women who would like to participate can tell there story.
This is where I’m at right now. Of course, things can change a bit but I’m excited to get the first step started. So this is where you all come in. I would love it if you answered these questions.
1. If someone asked you to participate in a project of this kind, why would you or why would you not want to participate (participation can look like sharing your story in an interview only, sharing your story in a group setting using theatrical techniques or sharing your story in a group setting with the intent of creating a theatrical sharing or performance)?
2. Do you know of anyone who has done a similar project (theatre, art, photography, dance, etc…) that you think would be willing to speak to me about their experience?
3. If you were to see a show about breast cancer what would you like to see or what would you expect to see?
Just three questions for now. I am also putting these questions in a survey monkey. Feel free to use that or to comment below if you are more comfortable.
I am so excited to get started and to hear your thoughts!!!!!