Sunday, November 9, 2014

Two Amazing Events to Begin the Fall!

I can't believe it's already November.  Things have gotten crazy busy, as they will do, and now we're in the strange bend from Halloween to New Year's, which often feels like a rollercoaster of holiday madness I can't jump off of for fear of breaking something, BUT...before all of THAT...I wanted to give a shout out to a few things that were awesome at the beginning of October and onward.

The beautiful poster for Cusi Cram's WILD AND PRECIOUS, featuring Phyllis Somerville and Sam Schuder.
First, I had the wonderful opportunity to go check out my former teacher and friend Cusi Cram's beautiful film, Wild and Precious, at its first New York screening at Anthology Film Archives the first weekend in October, and it was lovely, thoughtful, wise, true, funny, all of these things that Cusi's writing so often are...but added to that now are her directing talents.  I know that making a film was on her "bucket list," and it's so inspiring to have women you admire doing new things that they want to do fearlessly. 

Check out info on Cusi Cram's wonderful Wild and Precious here:

Me, Cusi, and playwrights Nena Beeber, and Brooke Berman at the Leah Ryan's Fund for Emerging Women Writers Benefit at Joe's Pub.  Photo by Michelle Tse @ The Interval, a fabulous new website about women in theater:
 A few days after Cusi's screening, I was able to raise a glass with Cusi again, but this time in the memory of her friend Leah Ryan, at a benefit for this AMAZING playwright's work and the fund for women playwrights that has been organized as part of her legacy. (And a special thank you to Tessa LaNeve for enabling me to be there that night!)  If you don't know Leah Ryan's work, go find some of her writing immediately.  Her plays are funny and heartbreaking and true; she wrote of the compromised nature of being alive in a way that is truly honest and HILARIOUS.  She passed away in 2008 after a fight with leukemia, and at the benefit some of her e-mails that she wrote to her friends during chemo and other therapies were read aloud, and it made me wish that those e-mails could be more public, in a book or on a blog, mostly because they were again, so complex and TRUE an account of fighting with cancer, without sugar-coating or overplayed heroics or any of the other methods that well-meaning stories of fighting cancer will often contain.  (And if that last sentence offends you because someone you loved died of cancer, know that both my grandmothers died of cancer, and my mom recently got through a fight with the disease, so I'm not talking about this from the outside...but no one really is, right?  We all have close connections to cancer.  We're intimate with this thing.)  At any rate, Leah's e-mails had a really refreshing sense of humor about chemotherapy (and there's a hard time to find something more humorless).  She wrote about fighting leukemia with a strong irony.  And a sparkling sarcasm.  And those things help you get through the day, you know?  While laughing.  And it's good to laugh in the face of something like cancer.  Because what the hell else are you really gonna do, huh?  LAUGH AT IT.  And laugh at people with cancer still being people, which Leah's e-mails about chemo really brought to the surface.  You're not differently human, superhuman, suddenly angelic, with're still just as ugly and sometimes remarkable as any other person on the face of the earth can be.

Speaking of a sense of humor about cancer, and just more wonderful writing about what that experience and journey can be, I wanted to shout out my colleague and friend, Carrie Larsen, and her blog about having and dealing with breast cancer:

I think we need more outlets and a bigger audience for women writing about cancer (and maybe just people in general, but when we get into medical questions, things get strangely gendered, sooooo...there's a big and interesting discussion to be had here), but still...more outlets.  A blog.  A book.  Many blogs.  Many books.  When I search the internet for "women" and "cancer," I find a lot of academic articles and good-feeling pink-ribbon sites raising money (which is great), but not that many outlets for narratives of the full truth of the experience of what it means to have cancer (as a woman or otherwise).  And I think we need more of that available to more of us...especially when the voices telling of their experiences are as true and funny and touching as Leah Ryan and Carrie Larsen's...and Ophira Eisenberg's (I just got to catch her album release party for BANGS @ Union Hall in Brooklyn this week, and I know the album includes some great comedy/stories about dealing with breast cancer).

So there you inspiring start to my favorite season!  Thank you Cusi, Leah, Carrie, Ophira, and so many others!  Let the leaves fall...autumn is a good time.

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