Leo: His Journey Through Breast Cancer is my newest play. And, in my mind one that I never thought of sharing after it was written. I like to think of myself as someone that writes plays about women for women. I mean, after all, being a feminist (or my simplistic view of feminism being I love and accept all of humanity) compels me to sit at the computer hammering out my focus on what it means to be a woman. I
intended to write plays about women only because they are an under represented market. I do not harbor any ill will toward men and their influence in theater or any other arena for that matter. I only want my place at the table and in my mind there is room for all of us.
So, with my what I perceived as my mantra, I could not let this play down. Leo would not let me sleep. Leo would not let my brain think of any other subject until he was brought to life. This idea was born in 1992 when I lived in California attending college. I do not recall the details of how I knew men got breast cancer, but I do remember becoming very aware that breast cancer was marketed as a woman’s disease.
Wait a minute? What? Men get breast cancer and no one talks about it. Where are their 5K runs? What symposiums do they have? Where are their cute little buttons, t-shirts, headbands, key chains? Why is it always pink? Why is breast cancer cute?
This blew my mind. I became hyper aware that breast cancer was drowning in pink. And, honestly it pissed me off. And, women in general should be alarmed. They are manipulated by the market and quite honestly, this terrible disease is marginalized by catering to only women. They are called warriors. The are called survivors. Their pain and suffering is out there and it should be. I never want to have that life experience, but, this life experience includes men.
We all share in the seriousness of this disease. We share. I’ll say it again. We share in its presence. Men and Women. This kind of thinking does not fit into a neat little package. We are not prone to group women and men together for a cause. It’s not something that’s marketable. It’s too civilized. Too smooth. Where’s the controversy?
Initially, I was going to write Leo then put it to bed. It’s not as popular a theme as my last play, Rosies: The Women Who Riveted The Nation. It does not have women rallying together to face the world. It does not have the warm fuzzy factor of what women during WWII gained by working together as a team. These women were a fortress of strength. In the end they won.
That camaraderie is not present in Leo. Leo is uncomfortable. It does not lend itself to fitting into a nice easy show. It’s ugly and it’s off putting.
Leo: His Journey Through Breast Cancer is now available for reading on The New Play Exchange. My hope is that it has achieved the awareness that breast cancer is the enemy. The only enemy. Breast cancer does not discriminate. We are fighting this battle together.