For its first “WBTT Voices” program for the 2016-17, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe in Sarasota is staging a playwright’s personal work about breast cancer. Not long after she completed the work, breast cancer took the writer’s life.
The writer’s name was Barbra Watson-Riley. The piece is titled “Life in the Cancer Lane.” She wrote the piece while she was in the midst of treatment for her own cancer, and it’s told through real-life accounts of breast survivors and their caregivers. It examines life after a cancer diagnosis and what happens when women are thrown head-first into “the cancer lane.” The characters in the play deal with the side effects of chemotherapy, the loss of hair and the loss of friends and other twists, turns and bumps on the breast cancer journey.
Watson-Riley lived in Phoenix, and died in 2013. Her mother, Lois Watson, is on the board of directors of WBTT.
The idea of the “WBTT Voices” series is to foster discussion through community forums. After Saturday’s performance, the audience is invited to take part in an intimate discussion with the playwright’s parents. The Sunday presentation will be followed by a panel discussion with local cancer experts.
It’s free, but donations are welcome. Money will go to Barb’s Bag of Care and Comfort, which provides essential items for chemotherapy patients, and other organizations that provide services to cancer patients, including the Multicultural Health Institute and Jewish Family & Children’s Service of the Suncoast.