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New 'Red Jasper' play shines light on cancer patients and survivors

Cast members from the play 'Red Jasper' rehearse the play in San Diego, Calif., May 18, 2022.
Heather Longfellow
Cast members from the play 'Red Jasper' rehearse in San Diego, May 18, 2022.

The inspiration for the new play "Red Jasper" has very personal roots for its director, Michael Madden.

His sister is a breast cancer survivor and her experience led him to interview dozens of other survivors.

"I ended up interviewing over 40 breast cancer survivors and I asked most of them the same questions, and I kept hearing similar responses that were said with a lot of emotion, even though these things had happened maybe months, maybe even years ago, and I realized how many times people just don't know the right things to do or say around people with cancer. They're well-intentioned people, they just don't always know what to do," Madden said.


He compiled a long list of real-life experiences from the cancer survivors he interviewed and incorporated them into "Red Jasper."

The play is a love story between Isadora, a cancer survivor whose breast cancer returns, and Tom, a man she meets while receiving her cancer treatments. The play shows the audience how to adapt to life with cancer and also how to love later in life.

"Red Jasper" also touches on people who've been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, or have a loved one with Alzheimer's.

"Almost everybody that you know nowadays has had some connection with either Alzheimer's or cancer, and you know, people don't talk about it."
Michael Madden

KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando spoke with playwright Michael Madden about the process of creating his play and getting its world premiere at Lamplighters Community Theatre in La Mesa. The conversation aired on Midday Edition Monday.

‘Red Jasper’ opens Friday, May 27, and runs every weekend through Sunday, June 19, at Lamplighters Community Theatre in La Mesa. Tickets can be purchased online on the Lamplighters Community Theatre's website.


The production is being promoted by the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation of San Diego. There will be a benefit night for the foundation on Saturday, June 11, with some of the ticket proceeds being donated to the foundation.