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Theatre and, The Theatre

2003

It has never happened that I had to consider calling any dance by a part of my body. But it is truly impossible to replace the incidence of bladder cancer with anything else that does not acknowledge bladder as bladder and cancer as that which I immediately had to document, film, record in as many ways as yet another episode where my interest in myself, this time the opening to my death, fascinates with riveting new stage, the hospital theatre.

It was 2003 and the news of having a lesion shocked me. I realized that I was a single mother who claimed that I would not allow anything to come between me and my contract with the world, at that time, namely to raise my child.

To start off, the theatre was a friendly place. It was a state hospital with a friendly doctor and a plethora of staff calling in to check on this and that, all the time.

By the time I was to go into theatre for the removal of a cancer inside the bladder, I was invested in not missing a moment. I did not want to be dozed without knowing what had happened, how it looked, how I behaved, what I began with and what I would end up with. Or without.

The doctor and his staff agreed that a video be made of the operation. One of the members of staff, who did not have his hands full (the anesthetist) , took the video camera and focused on the screen for me to view afterwards.

I felt this to be another of those exercises where one places your body in art. The artistic process can never delve too deep.

Subsequently, with regular follow-ups and where spoor-elements of the original cancer left further growth, these were removed and I made videos of these as well. By then we had advanced technology and the camera could simply be plugged into the screen and a piece of footage would be available.

The dance in my pyjamas was to the music of Arvo Pärt and which is music that undoubtedly facilitates a connective interface with the body in a way that deepens warmth and light towards the healing process.

Fortunately, and with gratitude to an ordinary team of people who remained dedicated to their task year after year the cancer did not grow again.

This was another example of how far the dance could reach, how curious I could be about the machinations of my body, and how I loved to get to know myself in the process.

Gratitude to my urologist Dr Nicolle, and staff of Military 2 Hospital, Wynberg, Cape Town.