In the span of 20 minutes, Tania Katan managed to scare, amuse, and enlighten me. I can only imagine what she can do in an hour.
“Saving Tania’s Privates” bills itself as a comedy, but the one-woman show is always treading on dangerous ground. Within this “comedy about family, boobs, and most importantly… Love” are conversations that are deeply moving, full of intensity and quite possibly, unforgettable.
And that’s the point.
As a college student, lesbian Tania Katan was mid-moan when her partner noticed a lump in her breast. Acting swiftly in the face of stage-3 cancer, she opted for a mastectomy and chemotherapy. At 21, she had survived a bout with cancer. Ten years later, she was ready to celebrate a clean break with the disease, until history repeated itself and she was in the dubious position of trying to survive a rematch with cancer. With a second mastectomy under her belt and finally cancer-free, Tania decided that she should share the story in the form of a memoir, “My One Night Stand With Cancer.” The book was a bestseller, and at 288 it is a riveting and even deeper look inside of the writer’s life before, during and after cancer. The book was the real inception of the play, said Katan. “When I wrote the book, I had no idea how to actually write a book, so my first draft to my editor was pretty much a monologue” versus an actual manuscript.
To live through the story that is most people’s worst nightmare with humor and a smile is impressive, but to adapt it into a play is a remarkably daunting task. The success of “Saving Tania’s Privates” really depends on the ability to remain respectful of the subject matter, and to provide just enough lightness to remind us it’s a comedy. In talking to Tania, I found her to be genuinely optimistic, and of course, funny. She shared that living through that was “incredibly difficult, but if I didn’t get over it, I wouldn’t do this every night.”
I asked Katan after the 20-minute sneak preview if she felt like there was a responsibility to women (and men) to share this story. She confessed that she’s thought about it before, and that this is something that needs to be talked about. When she was first diagnosed, there really wasn’t a logical explanation for having cancer at 21. Now, through TV and the media, there is a sense of increased visibility, but she wants to do her part… And save her parts.
“Saving Tania’s Privates” is showing at the FRIGID FESTIVAL, February 23rd through March 5th on 94 St. Marks Place. I am planing to attend the show, and if the preview was any indication, it’s going to be a roller coaster ride that’s well worth the price of admission.
For more about Tania visit: www.taniakatan.com.
For tickets to her show visit: www.FRIGIDnewyork.info.
Photo credits, from top: Joe Jankovsky and Angela Ellsworth.