Triumphant story of actress’s cancer battle comes to Coliseum

THE triumphant real-life story of an actress’s battle with a fist-sized tumour in her head is taking centre stage at Oldham Coliseum Theatre.

‘We Should Definitely Have More Dancing’ tells how fit and mainly care-free Clara Darcy’s world was turned upside down thanks to the arrival of the tumour.

Exploring the things that define us, fill us up and make us who we are, this cautionary postcard from the edge of life is co-written and performed by the actress herself.

Clara has joined forces with renowned director Tatty Hennessy and the team behind the multi-award-winning ‘The Greatest Play in the History of the World’, Ian Kershaw and Raz Shaw.

The show makes its world premiere at the Coliseum on Friday, June 17 to Saturday, July 2 before embarking on a national tour, including the Coliseum’s Edinburgh Fringe debut.

Clara said: “This is a show with a really serious subject matter that makes you confront quite dark, deep and difficult things about life and possibly even your own existence.

“But more importantly it is a celebration of the brilliant nuances of being alive and actually what a gift it is to have a dance with death that brings you to that realisation.”

Co-Director Raz Shaw said: “In 1995 I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. After a year of chemo and radiotherapy I was thankfully given the all-clear.

“In my subsequent career as a theatre director that experience has given me unique insights that I have been grateful for over and over again.

“Meeting Clara, hearing what she’s been through and helping bring her story to the stage has been one of the privileges of my life and makes sense of everything I went through 25 years ago.

“I immediately connected with that feeling of being at the centre of an unimaginable and surreal whirlwind that not only yields fear and confusion but also unexpected moments of joy and euphoria.

“The play wonderfully echoes Clara herself. Not just her openness, which in itself is extraordinary, but more her ability to embrace the cacophony of absurdities that a life-threatening illness brings.”

Co-Writer Ian Kershaw said: “I didn’t know Clara well. We’d collided at press night in theatre bars over the years and become Twitter friends.

“One day, I saw she’d been surprised by a brass band in her garden – not an everyday occurrence – I scrolled back and learnt what had happened to her. I dropped her a line to offer my help if she ever wanted to write about her experience.

“We met, we talked about what had happened to her, and we soon realised this had to be a stage-play and we needed people to be with us to share the story – a story of someone sailing away and coming back with insight to help us live better, to be better, to be present, to be here.

“And now we’re friends, not just Twitter friends, but friends in real life. And I think that every single person who comes to be a part of this story will also become her friend and will leave the theatre feeling the world is a bit fuller, a lot brighter, hugely happier and that we should definitely have more dancing.”

Chris Lawson, Artistic Director at the Oldham Coliseum, said: “Clara’s story is inspirational and raises important questions about to which extent we appreciate our health and our lives. I’m so proud the Coliseum is bringing it to the stage so she can share it with audiences.

“We Should Definitely Have More Dancing is also the first show the Coliseum has taken to Edinburgh Fringe and I’m equally thrilled and proud that this show, with this talented cast and creative team, is making our Edinburgh debut”.

Tickets to see ‘We Should Definitely Have More Dancing’ at Oldham Coliseum can be booked by calling the Box Office on 0161 624 2829 or online at www.coliseum.org.uk

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