By Liz Bereznak – Sunday, March 3, 2013
It is safe to say that throughout the course of her lifetime, every woman will either be personally affected by breast cancer, or will witness one of her close friends/relatives struggle with a diagnosis. However, it is rare to see personal accounts of women’s struggles with the disease in the media. Often, breast cancer stories are boiled down to statistics, news journal articles, and short snippets about one aspect of the disease. However, the celebrated one-woman show “Mama Juggs” gives a much-needed personal spin on the disease.
After her mother’s death from breast cancer at age 47, journalist AnitaWoodley wrote “Mama Juggs” as a tribute to her mother and to all other breast cancer victims. Told from the perspectives of her 100-year-old great-grandmother Suga Babe, her mother Mable-Ree, and Anita herself as both a teenager and young mother, “Mama Juggs” addresses every generation’s issues with breasts and breast health.
Suga Babe’s part serves mainly as a celebration of breasts and their function of feeding babies. Her affectionate song,“Titty Milk, Titty Juggs” promotes breast feeding. Anita’s part shows the role breasts play in a young girl’s life. She at first portrays herself as a 12-year-old girl so excited to develop breasts that she stuffs her bra in order to achieve the desired voluptuous figure. Later, she plays the part of herself as a new mother, skeptical as to her great-grandmother’s breast feeding methods. The central “story” of the play, however, is that of Mable-Ree. Mable, Anita’s sassy and brave mother was diagnosed with end-stage breast cancer in the ‘90s and died in 1995. The play chronicled her feelings during treatment, and later, her family’s feelings after her death. Her part in the play was mainly to inspire breast cancer awareness, especially in the African American community.
In the course of a four year period, this play has been performed a total of 89 times. Through humor, a capella gospel singing, and touchingly honest story lines, this play is a memorable tribute to breasts and women in general. However, while the plot deals mainly with the struggles of women, it is important to note that men are not excluded. In the performance, Anita makes it clear that women are not the only ones who suffer from this disease; men can be diagnosed with breast cancer as well. Also, there was a decent amount of men in the audience, therefore proving the show’s appeal to both genders. So, whether an audience member has had breast cancer, knows someone who has been diagnosed with it, or simply just has breasts, this show is sure to hit close to home.