I went to see a play the other day. It was at a somewhat new children’s theater called “The Theatre Bug”.The play was called “The Barefoot Children in the city of Ward”.
The creative director worked with the staff and kids at Gilda’s Club Nashville to create the play. The “ward” is a pediatric oncology ward in a hospital, but it has a Willy Wonka type feel to it. Many of the kids were incredible actors and the music was great too.
The kids, while in pajamas, have stylish stuff added to their outfits. Glitter, roller skates, robes that light up. And they don’t talk as if they are in a cancer word (There are rules and one is not to say the forbidden words, but we don’t really know what those words are because they can’t be said.)
The clock stays at 3:15 all the time because time doesn’t really mean anything when you don’t have any. Yet there is a party atmosphere with dancing every day at 12:62 led by the girl in roller skates.
The kids go on adventures. They look for the “Foreverity Castle”, that some child who left wrote them a note about. There are trolls on the way to the castle and they eat little kids. They eat them for 3 reasons. 1. They are small, 2. They are tasty, and 3. They are gluten free. There is some hilarious stuff in the play.
One night, late, one very tired little girl finds her way to the “Foreverity Castle” and is met by a former patient of the ward. When she does not appear the next day some of the younger children are happy reading the note she left saying that she had found the castle.
An older girl realizes that the child has died and has a moment of harsh reality where she is tired of playing the game. At this point we see all the kids as they are, not on skates wearing glitter, but on crutches, in wheelchairs and wearing caps to hide their baldness.
The play ends with… oh, I don’t know, I had checked out mentally way before that. But I think it was giving the hope back to the kids and letting them see glitter in life.
Everyone around me was crying and laughing and giving a rousing standing ovation.
Part of the play was based on a little guy I know from Gilda’s club. At the age of 11 he is a 2 time cancer survivor and has lost his dad to cancer. He makes beanies for kids in cancer wards. His story; of how he started a non profit group at age 10 is here - Beanies for Baldies. He sells these caps for $5. The $5 pays for the $1 cost of the cap and then $4 is used to make 4 hats that he then donates to oncology wards.
He sells them on Etsy, here. If you feel inclined please buy one. My little friend models them all on his page and they are cute. I am still a bit shut down about the play but some major sadness is bubbling up from inside as I think I will go to the “Foreverity Castle” way before I want to.
Monday Night Cancer Club is a Daily Kos group focused on dealing with cancer, primarily for cancer survivors and caregivers, though clinicians, researchers, and others with a special interest are also welcome. Volunteer diarists post Monday evenings between 7-8 PM ET on topics related to living with cancer, which is very broadly defined to include physical, spiritual, emotional and cognitive aspects. Mindful of the controversies endemic to cancer prevention and treatment, we ask that both diarists and commenters keep an open mind regarding strategies for surviving cancer, whether based in traditional, Eastern, Western, allopathic or other medical practices. This is a club no one wants to join, in truth, and compassion will help us make it through the challenge together.