‘Stages’ brings stories of cancer survivorship to Olympic theater arts
“Stages” is a play produced by Sequim resident Max Bidasha and will be on stage at the Olympic Theater Arts from January 9-12.
Supporting the process of managing life as a cancer patient and survivor, “Stages” is written from Bidasha’s own experiences with cancer.
A current cancer patient with stage IV epithelioid sarcoma which led to the amputation of his left hand earlier this year, Bidasha was inspired to write ‘Stages’, his first play, after seeing a performance of “Newsroom” on Broadway.
He wrote the piece over a period of several months, primarily at Hurricane Coffee at Sequim, which has since become a sponsor of his show.
Not only his first written play, “Stages” serves as Bidasha’s directorial and acting debut. Although it is her own cancer story, the piece also incorporates stories from other cancer patients.
While several of the Stages actors are also in their first theatrical production, Bidasha is supported by several theater veterans in the area, including Dave McInness, acting teacher at Sequim Middle School and an OTA regular on both stage and behind the scenes as a director.
McIness’ primary role for the play is as Bidasha’s stage manager, directing the production from behind the scenes, ensuring the actors make their entrances on time, and overseeing any set or costume changes as needed.
He will also be on stage at times, playing a character known as Lalo who Bidasha describes as “cheesy and smart, but hesitant”.
One of the most notable things that came out of Bidasha’s production was how close the cast was – almost everyone involved was touched by cancer in one way or another, which made the bond quick. and easy.
“Getting to know you is a lot less difficult when you have that to knock it all out,” Bidasha said.
The rest of the cast includes Marliyn Kaler, who plays Tulla; Phyllis Bernard-May, who plays Irene; Ryan Chen, who plays Christoph; Jeff Ryser, who plays multiple roles and helps McInness behind the scenes, and Jenny Schaper, who plays Rosie.
Bidasha was also touched by the community’s support for the show; OTA representatives told him that the 150 tickets sold in early December for the four-night tour in January are the best-selling for a show a month in advance.
“It shows me how important this message is for people,” said Bidasha, who also added that he really appreciates the number of people trying to help.
“I had so many people asking us what we needed, what they could do,” he said. “And having places like (Sequim Middle School) give us space to rehearse has been so good.”
Several members of the community also gave Bidasha photos of friends or family members who have had cancer which will be displayed at the OTA during the play, and audience members will have the opportunity to share their own stories. about cancer in writing.
Several local organizations have also offered financial support, such as Hurricane Coffee, Olympic Stained Glass, Cedar Greens and L3 Healing.
“I haven’t reached out too much because it’s very important for me to go to places that want to bring people together and be healthy,” Bidasha said.