Heather Carver has endured six months of chemotherapy, more than 90 radiation treatments and a double mastectomy. But she is able to keep laughing.
Carver, an MU theater professor, will perform her second one-woman breast cancer comedy at the Corner Playhouse. “Booby Prize,” Carver’s first play about breast cancer, focused on the diagnosis while her second performance, “Booby Trap: A Hair Raising Experience,” is centered on survival.
“I’m still here,” Carver said. “In a lot of plays about cancer, the person either dies at the end of the play or they conquer the cancer. There are not very many plays about life in the middle.”
The title, “Booby Trap,” is based off of a board game. The game’s slogan, “one false move and you’re out,” is an extended metaphor for the play.
“The show is about the crazy experiences of being a breast cancer survivor,” Carver said. “It’s the idea of trying to be prepared for life but you never know what is going to be thrown at you.”
Carver teaches courses in autobiography and social activism performance and incorporates these elements in “Booby Trap,” as well using the theater to spread awareness.
“I want to inspire people to reach out to people who are going through treatment as well as fight to end cancer,” Carver said. “There are things we can do all the time and acknowledge that this is an important issue. I keep on performing because I keep on hoping people will realize what an important issue this is.”
Emily Rollie, a doctoral theater student, is assisting Carver with the directing, writing and shaping of the play.
“As a solo performer, it helps to have another eye,” Rollie said. “I help shape the piece both textually and visually on stage. It involves looking at it more as a theatrical production versus someone standing on stage talking.”
“Booby Trap,” is not simply a play about an isolated story of life with breast cancer, said Rollie.
“It speaks to the more universal understanding of the experience,” Rollie said. “(The performance) exposes ways in which cancer makes you reprioritize. For me, (the show) is about living with cancer and the repercussions.”
Living with cancer can be a difficult and lonely experience. Carver hopes to heighten support for breast cancer patients.
“When I was bald and going through chemotherapy, sometimes it was as if I was a leper,” Carver said. “I even got asked to leave a restaurant one time.”
Sharrell Luckett, a second year doctoral theater student, choreographed a group movement element in “Booby Trap.” The movements are both meaningful and relatable, Luckett said.
“I think (the piece) shows you need a community, a connection of supporters to help you get through the hard times in life,” Luckett said.
“Booby Trap” is a comedy but the statistics about breast cancer remain very real.
“I look around in the audience and realize one out of seven women will be diagnosed with breast cancer,” Carver said. “It is really real for me. Sadly enough, someone in the audience who has not been touched by cancer will be.”
The performance is a one-woman show but the message is universal.
“The show is about me, but it is also about all of us,” Carver said. “The community needs to gather and fight this together. The real message is that we have to do this together.”