King University theater professor Kiara Pipino premiered her one-woman play, â€œEveryoneâ€™s a Hero with Someone Elseâ€™s Tit,â€ on Broadway in New York City at the eighth annual United Solo Festival. The play, a portrait of her experience, shines a personal light on breast cancer with the hope of increasing awareness.
Breast cancer is often a topic from which people shy away - not Kiara Pipino. While trying to digest what was happening in her life, she put pen to paper and poured her feelings out. When she was finished, a provoking yet personal play had been created.
â€œ[This] is my story; it is how I navigated through my breast cancer situation - freshly out of it. A year hasnâ€™t passed yet,â€ said Pipino. â€œEverything I wrote down was personal and came out of a need for me to get it off my chest - pun intended, yes. I also wanted to pay tribute to those who helped me through this - friends, family, colleagues, and of course, doctors.â€
Pipinoâ€™s intent for the play was to create something that could tour easily and become some sort of instrument to raise awareness for breast cancer. The play is a one-woman show starring Bevin Bell-Hall. â€œThe title - it was Christmas, and all my plans were ruined. Iâ€™m from Italy, and I could not go home to see my family but had to tell them over the phone why I wasnâ€™t coming home. I told a few others as well. At that moment, I became the one who had to comfort those I shared my diagnosis with. Then, everybody tells you what to do. When you have cancer, you spend half your time comforting those youâ€™ve told, and the other half listening to people who think they are experts - thus, the title, â€˜Everyoneâ€™s a Hero with Someone Elseâ€™s Tit.â€
â€œI was diagnosed with breast cancer on Dec. 15, 2016; two days before I ran a half marathon. I was fine. If I hadnâ€™t done a mammogram - because, in 2016, I turned 40 - I wouldnâ€™t have known, possibly, until it was too late. They tell you to get a mammogram when you turn 40. I left it until December, and they found it; they found breast cancer. It was so deep; I didnâ€™t detect it despite regular self-checks. I eat well; I go to the gym two hours a day; I run 7.5 to 8 miles every other day. That is why when I got the diagnosis, I was livid. It is a very vile disease.â€
Pipino commented that at first, the play came from an angry place and became quiet preachy. â€œThere is nothing to be preachy about. Iâ€™m not a doctor, though I know more now about breast cancer than I did before. Trying to tell people what to do serves no purpose. You can do everything right, like me, and still get breast cancer. At the end of the day, the only advice I could give is to live your life to full of your potential. Be normally careful and do what [the doctors] tell you to do. If you feel fine, do a mammogram nonetheless.â€
â€œAt the end of the day, this was a life-changing experience. That is what I wanted people to get from the play. It is a comedic piece. Even the dramatic parts are comedic. I received my diagnosis via text message while I was running on the track at the Student Center. Essentially, the message read congratulations, you have cancer - not exactly those words, but that is what I got from it. Itâ€™s pretty bad, but when you say it, it is comedic. Itâ€™s so absurd. I am hopeful my story, as told through this play, will help raise awareness for breast cancer.â€
Pipino has collaborated with Playwrights Horizons and is the artistic director of the Festival Internazionale Valle Christi in Italy. Directing credits include â€œTwelfth Night,â€ â€œThe Tempest,â€ â€œAs You Like It,â€ â€œDead Manâ€™s Cell Phone,â€ â€œThe Unseen,â€ â€œThe How and the Why,â€ â€œThe Understudyâ€ and â€œIndoor/Outdoor.â€ Pipino received a BFA in architecture and a Ph.D. in architecture for performance from the University of Genoa in Italy. She also received an MFA in directing from the University of Arkansas.