MAILED: Feb. 27, 2001
The Forum will present Liza Vann in The Top of the Bottom Half, a one-person show that emphasizes the healing power of humor, Tuesday, March 13, at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
The presentation will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Schofield Auditorium. Running just over an hour, the performance will be followed by a half-hour question-and-answer session.
Liza Vann is the top of the bottom half the seventh child in a family of 12. In her show she comically reviews her experiences growing up in the South and gives advice about the choices people face throughout their lives. She addresses the most difficult of topics including a brothers serious drug problem and her own less-than-traditional confrontation with breast cancer with humor and intelligence.
Lizas fearless and positive approach to her breast cancer experience is an inspiration to women everywhere, said Elizabeth Woolfe of the National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations.
A New York stage actress and producer of independent films, Vann was persuaded to create the play while having dinner with a colleague who began crying, from laughing, at Vanns stories about her recent run-in with breast cancer. You must do this on stage, she told Vann.
Strangers prior to this collaboration, Vann and co-author Katherine Griffith sifted through 20 hours of Vann on tape to build the backbone of The Top of the Bottom Half. One of Vanns primary intentions was that the play help women get smart about breast cancer.
On the eve of its New York debut in 1998, The Top of the Bottom Half created controversy when New York magazine rejected a $27,000 full-page ad displaying the effects of Vanns 1992 lumpectomy. Vann proposed a fold-over ad with the flap reading, If you want to know what breast cancer looks like, lift this page. Lifting the flap would reveal Vanns model-perfect torso. While the magazine cited procedural issues that prevented their running the ad, two alternative weeklies The Village Voice and Time Out New York ran a scaled-down version without hesitation.
Ive had three surgeries on the left breast and one on the right breast, Vann told the New York Post. I had auxiliary node dissection, radiation and chemo. All these things have happened to this body.
She attributes her nearly flawless appearance to her fight against gratuitous surgical abuse believing that even the best reconstruction is a poor substitute for doing less initial damage.
Cancer is not a gunshot wound. Both are serious; only one is urgent, Vann declares. Slow down, park fear outside the door, and get very clear on what is being said.
You can be informed, Vann says. You can get smart about this disease. We cant prevent it yet, but we can prevent it from killing us. Early detection. It can be a nonevent. I did the disease about as well as it gets done. But as well as I did it, I want you to do it better. And thats why Im doing this.
Admission is $7 for the public; $5 for those age 62 and older and UW-Eau Claire faculty and staff; or $3 for those age 17 and younger and UW-Eau Claire students. Tickets are available at the University Service Center in Davies Center and will be sold at the door.
Patrons also may charge their tickets to MasterCard or Visa when they order by phone. Call the University Service Center, (715) 836-3727 or, outside the immediate Eau Claire area, call toll-free (800) 949-UWEC. A $3 handling fee will be added to all telephone charge orders.
The Forum is made possible by student funds allocated by the UW-Eau Claire Student Senate.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: Feb. 28, 2001