Lots of people have personal reasons for bringing a show to the Fringe, but few are as pressing or as personal as Gretel Brice’s. Having terminal cancer, she’s created a piece of movement theatre to tell her story, and a theatre company, Orange Elephant, to leave as a creative legacy for her daughters. In the process she’s raising funds for a gynaeocological cancer campaign at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital called the VOiCE campaign. We spoke to her to find out more.
Tell us why you have made this show…
We’ve made this show to raise awareness for gynaecological cancers as they are not often talked about and there are usually very few to no symptoms for these. As I am now in terminal stages of ovarian cancer myself, I wanted to do my best to help others before they get to my situation.
What was your creative background before this?
I’ve been involved in the creative arts since I was a child. I’ve acted, directed, taught and choreographed all of my life really. In many of my working roles, I have also used creative outlets in a therapeutic way.
How has making this show helped you?
Making this show has given me a purpose in the massive challenges and changes in my personal life. With the loss of my own business due to my illness, it has enabled me to focus my attention and creativity in a positive way.
What do your family feel about the show?
Involving my family so heavily has enabled us to start working through the challenging process of grief together, whilst still doing what we all love.
How are you feeling right now?
I regularly feel unwell physically and due to where the cancer currently is, there are many practical issues to overcome daily. However, this project is helping me to remain strong, both mentally and emotionally.
Why “Orange Elephant”?
I chose the name Orange Elephant because ever since spending some time in South Africa when I was younger, I found a passion for elephants, and there were two orange ponies that I was very fond of. So I put the two together, and I thought well, you can have whatever colour elephant you want! Also, did you know, elephants have the longest pregnancies of all living mammals – just under two years!
What would you like the show to achieve?
I would like the show to get people looking at and discussing terminal illness in a new, and hopefully more positive, way. I’d love it if it enabled people to see the new possibilities and opportunities in any challenging situations they may face.