Saturday, October 30, 2010

From Breast Cancer to Broadway

FROM BREAST CANCER TO BROADWAY is a moving experience at Karamu

In her speech before the premiere of FROM BREAST CANCER TO BROADWAY, Karamu Theatre's Public Relations Director, Vivian Wilson asked for all those in attendance who were breast cancer survivors to stand up. Over one-third of the mainly female African American audience stood up. Wilson went on to explain that while white American females get breast cancer at a proportionally higher rate, the percentage of African American women who die of the disease is higher. The reasons: the cost and fear of the pain of mammograms, reliance on old folk tales, and lack of general knowledge about the disease.

It is the purpose of FROM BREAST CANCER TO BROADWAY, the real stories of eleven Black women who wrote each of the mini-plays, to spread the word to their community of the truth about the disease and how to treat and deal with it.

According to dynamic and charming Lenice Bozerman, one of the authors to whom I spoke at intermission, the project was an outgrowth of a writing workshop conducted at The Gathering Place, a cancer support center. Each woman wrote of her experiences and, under the guidance of Bridgette Wimberly, the pieces were polished. The performance staging was done by Terrence Spivey.

The themes cover self-blaming, the relational dysfunctionality among friends and family that results from the discovery of the illness, the necessity of turning to a higher source for sustenance and assurance, the lack of knowledge of women in general regarding self-examination and medical testing, the disagreement and lack of empathy of some doctors, the ignoring of a family history in spite of the obvious signs, how pregnancy is affected by breast cancer, how inner-voices emerge under times of stress, the lack of sensitivity on the part of employers and husbands and family members, and the role of support groups and community resources in helping deal with the physical and emotional pain from coping with the disease.

Though there is some unevenness in both the scripts and the performances, the overall effect of the evening is emotionally stimulating and draining. Superior performances were given by Jeanne Madison, Saidah Mitchell and Joyce M. Meadows.

The most important thing is the message to the audience….do self examinations, get mammograms, avail yourself of support groups.

Are you aware that The Angel Network-African American Women Nurturing and Giving Each Other Life), (216-491-7827 or 216-491-6407), makes arrangements for free medical testing, financial support, transportation and even child care to those in need? Are you aware of the programs available from Susan G. Komen for the Cure/Northeast Ohio? Are you cognizant of The Gathering Place (216-595-9546), which provides one-to-one counseling, support groups, nutrition and exercise classes, and lectures and workshops for those who have cancer and their families?

The program contains an excellent glossary of breast cancer terms compiled by Bernadette Scruggs.

CAPSULE JUDGEMENT: Seeing FROM BREAST CANCER TO BROADWAY is more than a theatrical event, it can be a life saving experience for women, African American Women, in particular. It is an eye opening event for all to experience.