Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Love, Loss and What I Wore Comes to Charlotte County


Note:  A version of this article ran in the September 26th edition of Florida Weekly.  Since I recently blogged about going to see this show, I wasn't planning to post this article here.   But I was so taken aback at the lung cancer statistics that Tom Cappiello, event organizer, shared with me that I want to do my part to get the word out.   I have two friends currently battling lung cancer, which is probably one reason the statistics hit me so hard.  If you know people who are or were "30 pack smokers" (someone who smoked two packs of cigarettes a day for 15 years), please encourage them to be screened.  A simple blood test might save their lives. 

LET’S PUT ON A SHOW – Love, Loss and What I Wore Comes to Charlotte County
By Nanette Crist

Last May, Tom Cappiello found himself in a theater full of women watching a performance of Nora and Delia Ephron’s Love, Loss and What I Wore.   The show had a two week run at Theatre Conspiracy in Fort Myers, with the proceeds from each performance going to benefit a different non-profit.   Cappiello and his wife were there to support friend—and actress for a night-- Kathy Grey raise funds for the Adonis Autism Assistance Foundation.   While the women in the audience laughed and cried along with the vignettes in the show, Cappiello was thinking about logistics.  Could he bring the show to Charlotte County to raise money for his own non-profit, the Lung Cancer Research Council?  With a little help from some friends, the answer was a resounding “yes.”

BEHIND THE SCENES OF THE SHOW

Roberts, Grey, Cappiello, Moody.Amelia, and Feinberg

The first step was to assemble a cast – five female community leaders who would be willing to volunteer their time and take to the stage.    The task was made easier by the fact that Love, Loss is a readers’ theater production.   The women will sit at their respective podia during the show with their scripts in front of them.  No concerns about forgetting lines or hitting marks or exiting stage right at the proper moment.   This format enabled Cappiello to reach out to women both with and without acting experience.    

Grey, editor of the Charlotte County edition of Florida Weekly, was in from the start.  Sherrie Moody, Executive Director of the Charlotte Players, was another natural choice.  The Virginia B. Andes Volunteer Community Clinic yielded two actresses:  Chief Executive Officer Suzanne Roberts and Development Coordinator Susan Boon.   Christy Feinberg, features reporter for the Charlotte Sun, rounds out the group.  

Cappiello then approached Kathy Amelia, coordinator of readers’ theater outreach at Lemon Bay Playhouse, to direct the show.   Once Amelia came on board, it was time for the work to begin in earnest. 

Suzanne Roberts as Gingy
At the first rehearsal, Amelia talked to her cast (which includes two first-time actresses who will remain nameless) about how to approach this type of production.  “Readers’ theater is the purest form of theater.  You have to make audience members interested in listening to you because there’s nothing else to watch.  In this time of visual overstimulation, your challenge is to get the point across using only words.”  

Luckily for the actresses, Love, Loss makes that easy, at least for the women in the house.  As Nora Ephron said, “What you wear and what happened to you are indelibly connected.”   There’s no doubt that every woman in the audience will think back to the clothes that have played a role in her own life—be it a favorite sweater or that prom dress she just had to have—while listening to the characters’ stories.  

At several points in the show, the Ephron sisters use a device they aptly call a “clothesline.”   Each character is a pin on the line and chimes in with her thoughts on the subject at hand.  Take, for instance, the experience of trying on clothes in one of those awful department store dressing rooms.  Who hasn’t said to themselves when in this situation,  “Is there something wrong with the lighting in here?”  “My arms!  What happened to my arms?”  And, of course, “This will fit if I lose ten pounds.”  
  
While Love, Loss contains a lot of laughter, there’s heartbreak as well.   One character shares a particularly poignant story in which a bathrobe triggers memories of her mother who died at a young age.   It is stories like this that make the connection between Love, Loss and What I Wore and Cappiello’s work with the Lung Cancer Research Council. 

REDUCING LUNG CANCER MORTALITY IN SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

Cappiello is a lung cancer survivor.  So his passion about lung cancer research and prevention comes as no surprise.  What may come as a surprise, however, is to learn that lung cancer is the number one cause of death in Charlotte County.    Or that each year, lung cancer claims over 160,000 lives nationwide, more than breast, prostate, colon and kidney cancers combined.   Or that only 15% of people diagnosed with lung cancer will survive five years beyond their diagnosis.   (The survival rate has remained virtually static since the “war on cancer” was declared in the 1970s.)     

The goal of the Lung Cancer Research Council is to raise awareness about the importance of screening and early detection.   Because the Council has no paid staff or overhead, 100% of the proceeds from the performance of Love, Loss and What I Wore will fund this mission.  (Truly Nolen has generously agreed to underwrite the rental cost of the Cultural Center Theater.)    

While Cappiello is excited about Love, Loss and What I Wore, he is also looking forward to the Council’s major fundraiser – The Southwest Florida Lung Cancer 5K Run/Walk and Mile of Memories Walk.  The Run/Walk will take place on Saturday, November 9th.  This event is in its fifth year and has options for participants at all fitness levels.    

GIVE A NIGHT, SAVE A LIFE

Love, Loss and What I Wore will be presented at the Cultural Center Theater on Friday, October 4th, at 7:30   It’s hard to imagine an easier – or more fun—way to help battle lung cancer in our own backyard.  The question is not whether you should go see this show, but what you will wear. 

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