Boobs – we all have them, and finally, someone is talking about them.
After amazing experiences performing in “The Vagina Monologues” and “Love, Loss and What I Wore,” local playwright Deborah Bostock-Kelley was inspired by the behind-the-scenes antics that happened while the cast was applying their makeup, fixing their hair, and getting into costumes in the dressing rooms. She decided, much like Eve Ensler’s conversation in 1994 about vaginas, she would write, produce, perform, and direct an original play about breasts.
As she knew she could only say so much on this topic, during summer 2019, she reached out through social media to ask for true stories about breasts. She expected a trickle of responses – a few women to respond. She could not imagine that her e-mailbox would be overwhelmed with personal stories from people of all ages that would make her laugh out loud and, alternatively, wipe away tears.
With an overwhelmingly positive response the community, she received over two dozen submission about breast sizes and shapes, the space between breasts, uneven breasts, sports bras, augmentation, third boob syndrome, gender fluidity, men’s appreciation, and fascination, man boobs, breastfeeding, and breast cancer. She compiled the monologues into a full-length play call “Breast Advice: An Uplifting Conversation about Boobs.”
Besides Deborah, “Breast Advice” contributing authors include Stephan Bielawski, Tom Bostock, LeeAnn Smith, Martha Velez, Felicia Sabartinelli, Newt Pantalones, Georgia Kosloski, Barry Silber, Kym Welch, Norma Caltagirone, Shirley Overton, Danielle Trzcinski, Amy C. Ragg, Gretchen Suarez-Pena, Dane Markle-Klapp, Alexa Sheppard, Naomi Sample, Marc S. Sanders, Ashley Kix and multiple writers who wished to remain anonymous.
“Initially laying the printed monologues on my bed, looking at the massive amount of scripts I received, I had no idea how I would put this cohesively together. I stepped back and let each script become a puzzle piece that fit perfectly to form the play – one monologue leading into the other – to tell a powerful story. This is something every one of our writers and actors can be proud to have on his resume,” said Deborah. “A dear friend of mine is a breast cancer survivor. She was part of The Affirmations Project, a local nonprofit that supports cancer and domestic abuse survivors. Once I had this show in mind, I knew I wanted to donate a portion of the ticket sales in her name to the charity.”
When Deborah put out a call for actors, many of the playwrights responded to perform their work, making a personal dialogue even more intimate. Before she even had the 17 actors in place, Fran Powers, founder of Powerstories Theatre, a community theatre in Tampa recognized for producing theatre that empowers girls and women, reached out to generously donate the theatre space to workshop the production and donate a portion of all ticket sales to the nonprofit.
With a set designed by Shirley Overton and staged managed by Athena Schorsch, “Breast Advice” features a beautiful combination of talent regularly seen on stages across Tampa Bay and actors making their debut. Deborah joins Athena, Olivia Salgado Mancuso, Constantine Kyriakou, John Sallustio, Naomi Sample, Suzy Block Duic, LeAnn Davis Smith, Newt Pantalones, Meagan Morales-Correa, April Brunner, Andrew Brunner, Kari Tepfenhart, Kym Welch, Georgia Kosloski, Norma Tomasello Caltagirone, and Amy C. Ragg.
“Based on the feedback that we receive from the audience, we hope to submit ‘Breast Advice’ to the 2020 Tampa Bay Theatre Festival to compete in the full-length play competition. It’s my goal to do for breasts what Eve Ensler did for vaginas.”
“Breast Advice” will be workshopped on December 7 at 8 p.m. at Powerstories Theatre, 2105 West Kennedy Boulevard. Learn more at www.breastadvice.website or to purchase tickets, visit www.powerstories.org.