MOTOWN Cast Members Set for 6th Annual Visible Ink Event Tonight
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL cast members Rebecca Covington, Marva Hicks, Crystal Joy, Mykal Kilgore, Julius Thomas III, and Donald Webber, Jr. will appear at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center this evening when the Visible Ink writing program holds its sixth annual staged reading of unforgettable, inspiring, and hilarious works by patients.
The cast members will perform "I Am Here," a song Thomas wrote as a tribute to Tony Award nominee Valisia LeKae following her recent diagnosis with ovarian cancer. Watch the song's exclusive world premiere HERE.
This year's Visible Ink event will showcase 18 works by patient participants, performed by headline actors, singers, and dancers.
Visible Ink offers all MSK patients the opportunity to reap the proven benefits of written expression, which include stress reduction, enhanced self-image, and personal empowerment. The writing can be in any form on any topic, and need not be disease-related. To date, over 800 patients have enrolled to work one-on-one with a volunteer writing mentor. Patient writers have produced over 35,000 pages of poetry, memoir, fiction, essays, plays, comedy sketches, legacy letters, journals, and blogs. The program is free to participants, supported by grants and donations.
ERIN - now in her 50s, is the mother of four children she adopted from South Korea. Erin's story, She Told On Me, recalls the moment when her beloved sister spotted the suspicious lumps she'd been hiding and ratted her out to their parents. Harrowing treatment replaced her dreams of a fun-filled summer at the beach and cheerleading tryouts when she started High School the following fall. Erin has run 8 marathons, rides horses, and volunteers in an equine therapy program for children with special needs. "I couldn't wait to get home and throw my arms around her, to cry with her until it hurt, and most of all, to thank her - because she told on me, and saved my life."
BILL PERSKY, Erin's Visible Ink mentor, is the Emmy Award-winning comedy writer behind such classic hits as "That Girl," "Kate and Allie, and "The Dick Van Dyke Show. Bill is a charming, irresistible raconteur.
SEB - This engaging young man, now in his 20's, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma at age seven. Treatment took years and left him with many lasting health effects. Writing with a mentor in Visible Ink has helped him to process some of his most challenging experiences. We'll stage his essay, Hand Over Hand, which recounts how a superb, caring pediatric surgeon at MSK awakened Seb to his own amazing resilience. "In my helplessness, he made me realize how I could be my own salvation. He forced me to recognize the hidden, indomitable power within me, the power within us all."
BRENDA - Diagnosed with breast cancer in her late 40's, this lovely, luminous woman has written the remarkable piece Perks. Cancer-related hair loss is a central trauma for many patients, but Brenda's irresistible essay details a number of unexpected positives. "Over and over again, I see waiters and clerks register what's happening for me and go from being harried to soft, welcoming, and solicitous."
IRENE - 80-something, has survived three cancers. She's an accomplished photographer, writer, and concert mandolin player, who also volunteers to help elderly East-siders remain in their homes. Her priceless Pre-Destiny, recalls a trip she took to Florida as a young woman, where she was mistaken for a hooker, met a charming (married) man, and danced the night away. "A week later, I received a postcard from him, which I recently found. I am so grateful to have something tangible to prove it was not a fantasy."
BILL - Author of the stunning story, Billy Talks Too Much, is an affable, articulate, fifty-something gay man who credits the support of his husband Jared and writing in Visible Ink with enabling him to cope despite the crushing diagnosis of a serious cancer compounded by his lingering guilt about his father's early death when he was a child. "Afterwards, I buried inside me the thought that I was the one who should've died. Not him. My faith had failed us all, and there we stood choosing yellow roses."
ELIANA is a bright, personable, 32-year-old. In Let's Pretend to be Normal, she beautifully expresses how her young life and bright future was upended by a cancer diagnosis. This touching, funny essay recalls an outing with her toddler son and young husband during chemo. Pizza and Pinkberry yogurt offered an oasis of normalcy, humor, and hope. Eliana writes a popular blog about her cancer experiences. "The biggest decision that night: whether to have spinach, garlic or mushrooms on our pizza. It felt good to debate pizza topics instead of pharmaceutical drugs."
CLAIRE - 60-something, penned Fly Away Home, an indelible account of how she found refuge at her childhood best friend's house during her parents' frequent, horrifying battles. Through Visible Ink, Claire continues to develop her writing talents and plumb her stories for personal growth and insights.
"Late at night, I would listen to my transistor radio and fly to the far-away cities I can reach on my AM band. One night Pittsburgh, on another, through the static on WLS in Chicago, I heard 'Harlem Nocturne'."
RACHEL - early 30's, is a vivacious, delightful English teacher with two toddler girls. Her stunning story, The Beginning, is an unforgettable account of the devastating day when she was diagnosed with melanoma. This piece taps universal themes of love, longing, fear, hope, will, and wonder. "You know all those movies you've seen where the central character hears a sentence that ends with the word "cancer" and everything goes quiet? Well, it's exactly like that."
MARIELENA - 60-something, grew up in Mexico City. In Shadow of Death, she writes with candor and courage about life with advanced ovarian cancer. The piece contains pitch-perfect moments of humor and creativity, a virtuoso performance. "To me an 'Infusion' should come with mint, rum, and a pretty little umbrella."
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus