Niagara Gazette

October 7, 2013

Upcoming NCCC play tackles breast health

Staff reports
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Inspired by people in the playwright’s life and a rise in advanced breast cancer in younger women under 30, “Mama Juggs” is an intimate performance about persevering with breast cancer and body image issues. 

Creator Anita Woodley brings her acclaimed solo work to the Niagara County Community College for a noon performance on Wednesday at the student center in the G-building. Admission is free.

“Mama Juggs” tells the story of her mother’s battle with breast cancer through spirituals and improvised comedy, which she also uses to explore her own comic frustrations with puberty and first-time motherhood. Throughout the play, Woodley interacts with the audience as if they were guests in the Oakland living room of her childhood. “When she’s at her peak, it feels like she’s channeling these characters, not performing them,” said theatre critic Byron Woods of The Independent Weekly.

Written as a promise to Woodley’s mother, who died of breast cancer before she was 50, Mama Juggs challenges taboos and stereotypes surrounding breast health and body image. It’s designed to contribute to the campaign against breast cancer by raising money and connecting women’s health allies.

New York is among the states with the second highest morality rate for black women after a breast cancer diagnosis. The nonprofit’s “Pink, Black & Blue Cancer  & Health Disparities State Tour” brings breast cancer outreach and awareness to rural and under-served communities across America. For every 100 breast cancers diagnosed, black women had nine more deaths than white women. Despite having lower incidence rates, black women had a 41 percent higher breast cancer death rate.

Woodley was named the 2012 Emerging Artist in Drama by the Durham Arts Council. She is a national award-winning journalist and former producer for CNN and the NPR Affiliate program “The Story with Dick Gordon.”

To watch the trailer and for more information, visit

IF YOU GO n WHAT: "Mama Juggs: The Breast Health Show" by Anita Woodley n WHEN: Noon, Wednesday n WHERE: G-building at NCCC, 3111 Saunders Settlement Road, Sanborn n TICKETS: Free admission