My Sarcasm May Be My Undoing

It turns out that no matter how funny, touching, or poignant a play is – and I believe mine actually scores okay in these criteria – having the word “Cancer” in the title is a turnoff to some people; unless of course it’s like “Tropic of Cancer” by Miller. Then everyone wants to read it – hoity-toity sons of guns.

So here is my Dilemma, I wrote – what I consider to be a pretty witty and inventive play, “Cancer: It’s Not for Everyone.” I fiddled with several titles before settling on that one, stuff like “Units of Love,” that kind of thing – You know more moody and maudlin and less descriptive. None of them seemed to capture the sarcasm and defiance I use embraced during my cancer journey.

Anyway, we (me and the wonderful folks at Chapel Street Players NEXT playwriting ensemble and Chapel Street Community as a whole) have this public reading of my play set to get input to make it better and my dear friend Lyn was handing out flyers (for the reading on November, 15 2014, at the CSP Playhouse at 24 N. Chapel St., Newark De, admission is free {I couldn’t resist}) when she heard a couple of patrons say the title was somewhat off putting.

She told them it was funny and as wonderful as I am (might be a problem there) anyway it seems they just couldn’t get past the title. Hmmmm. That’s good to know. I will have to consider a change later. In the interim I guess I’ll just keep plugging away with my social media antics until after the reading.

In a lot of ways that’s really hard to hear especially considering it’s a mostly true story.

I think I will adjust my notices a bit to key on the tag line – from tragedy to comedy. And continue to drive on.

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4 thoughts on “My Sarcasm May Be My Undoing

  1. I think a title that announces Cancer: It’s Not For Everyone might run into the problem that almost everyone knows someone who has or had cancer and when they see the word they think of their own experience. Some people of course have had or still have cancer. And if the play is mostly a true story, then you have your own experience, and I imagine you heard a lot of cancer stories when you told people about it. A close friend of mine told very few people about her diagnosis because she didn’t want to hear about other people’s experiences, good or bad–her doctor told her each cancer is individual. Cancer is a trigger word for emotion–fear, anxiety, despair, as well as hope, triumph, etc. From the brief excerpt from your play, a Cancer Cell appears to be a character–and indeed, cancer is one of those diseases that has a persona that moves into the life of the one who has it as well as the lives of family and friends, because it has its own demands which must be taken care. Long way of saying I think the reaction is to personal experience or fear and not to a play not yet seen. Titles are tricky. Maybe one that is less of a trigger will occur to you. Best luck!

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  2. Bill, One of the best plays in recent memory was written by Margaret Edson and it concerned, scene and scene out, the experience of Vivian Bearing struggling with ovarian cancer, for which there is no cure. It is a very, very funny play, but pulls no punches concerning the horror of the disease. It was a Pulitzer Prize winner and a genuine audience pleaser. It is called WIT.

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    • Tom:
      Thanks so much for your thoughts. I’ve never seen Wit, but have heard of it. I’m betting my show is more of a nitwit thing. Get it? A pun. Heh, heh. I am looking forward to the comments from the public reading. should be instructive. I smell a title change though.

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