Robin Duke: I’ve Been Hacked

Writing our own illness stories is hard. Performing them is about ten billion times harder.

When Robin Duke was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 her first instinct was to hide. Robin had written, performed and produced on stage and screen but she was determined that cancer was going to be a private performance. Now she’s ready to go public.

This Saturday, November 18th, she will be performing at 8 pm at The Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts – event details here.

In I’ve Been Hacked, we see the necessary intrusions of medical professionals and the voyeuristic ones of near-strangers at parties. We hear the rumours swirling around the acting world and share her feelings of exposure. But unlike on the stage where Robin’s show girl self could shine on her own terms, cancer had its own stage directions. With stories, songs and characters, we watch Robin through her fears, her changing body image and her unexpected fashion choices.

But with all of these questions, Robin sees that there are no clear answers. The idea of being inspired, makes her really tired and in the end she finds something better than answers. In collaboration with director and theatre artist Martha Burns and myself, Robin Duke’s one-woman show shines a light on her cancer adventure on her own terms. Robin spoke about our collaboration to the Sault Star before performing at the Algoma Fall Festival last month.

Robin is known for her work on Saturday Night Live, SCTV, and currently, in the comedy troupe Women Fully Clothed and FXX’s Man Seeking Woman.

About the author: Julie Devaney is a patient activist living in Toronto. She is the author of My Leaky Body (Goose Lane Editions: 2012) and co-editor of MESS: The Hospital Anthology (Tightrope Books: 2014). My Leaky Body was one of Quill and Quire’s Top Five Non-fiction books of 2012. Julie was named a Woman Health Hero by Best Health Magazine in 2011 and has been profiled on CBC Radio’s White Coat, Black Art and The Current, in Chatelaine and the Toronto Star. Her writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail, Toronto Life and numerous anthologies. Julie has given hundreds of presentations at medical schools, nursing conferences and theatres throughout Canada and in the US and the UK using participatory techniques with patients and professionals to formulate strategies for change and innovation in healthcare. Her work at the University Health Network in Toronto has transformed real patient stories into staff training.
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