Boob Cruise began when everyone laughed at the idea that women on the Isle of Eigg charter a boat to go to a breast screening clinic on the mainland. They call it the Boob Cruise.
People laugh at the word “boob” and that a gang of women make something so very intimate into a public day out, full of craic and camaraderie, coffee and cake.
Inspired by that journey, Right Lines are developing Boob Cruise, a new play we hope will tour Scotland in 2022. We want to screen a rehearsed reading of our draft script to get people's feedback on the play, and need your help to make it happen.
Boob Cruise isn't a play about Eigg. Boob Cruise is about the journey all women aged 50 to 70 make from their breast screening invitation to getting their results. Usually it's a journey made alone - get invite, turn up, have boobs squashed and go.
Most women are given the all clear. But there's a niggling feeling that those minutes spent having your breasts squished could mean life won't ever be the same again. What happens then?
In Boob Cruise, our women are literally in the same boat, a unique and believable setting for the screen-or-not-screen decision to be shared together.
NHS information says there are risks as well as benefits of screening. These risks and benefits mean that, for some women, the decision to go for breast screening can feel confusing, isolating and scary. With Boob Cruise we want to explore this decision with everyone, not just women invited for breast screening.
Screening saves about 1 life from breast cancer for every 200 UK women who are screened, that’s about 1,300 lives saved from breast cancer each year.
After screening, most women are given a negative, or all clear, result.
1 in 25 women are called back, 6 of whom will be diagnosed positive with breast cancer.
Each year 4,000 women screened in the UK are diagnosed with a cancer that would never have been found without screening and that would never have been life threatening.
This means, for every 1 woman who has her life saved from breast cancer, about 3 women are diagnosed and offered treatment for a cancer that would never have become life threatening*.
Before we get too serious, it's time to remind you it's a comedy!
Six feisty island women set sail on the Boob Cruise, their worries hidden by fun and banter.
Kathleen’s the organised one, she got the boat hired while Alison was out badgering everyone to go. Despite being over 70, Maggie will NOT be left out. But her best buddy Robina almost stayed home.
Know-it-all-Bridgit has never been screened before. Meanwhile young Carrie’s hitched a ride just to get a haircut! Terry the skipper’s got his boat full as he charts a course to the mainland…
Over the real-time duration of a boat ride, Boob Cruise will explore the complexity of the decision each Boob Cruiser has made. The characters and conversation reveal a deep and often humorous look into a normally private world, where choices and their consequences can mean life or death.
We have a draft script and want to test it out in an exclusive online rehearsed reading to be screened on 1st October, the first day of this year's Breast Cancer Awareness month.
We need your help to raise the £2,500 to make the screening of that rehearsed reading possible and so kick start the next stage of this exciting project.
Audience feedback from rehearsed readings of our earlier plays has been incredibly valuable. Hearing the characters voices out loud instead of just on a page adds to the writing process. Feedback from an audience helps make the final script clearer, funnier, better able to hit the spot and create a great experience for audiences.
For Boob Cruise we want to be sure that in using humour to explore this sensitive and personal decision, we’ve got the balance right.
We also need to be sure we’re not misleading people; these are important decisions and we need to get the facts and science right.
So as well you, our crowdfunder public supporters, the exclusive rehearsed reading will also be shared with the health professionals we’ve been working with, to ensure that (with some dramatic licence!) Boob Cruise is truthful.
The rehearsed reading will be shown online at 8pm on Friday 1st October. The hour long show will be followed by a Q&A session with the creative team, and some of the actors. Afterwards we'll ask everyone who's seen the screening to tell us what they think.
With your feedback we will then produce a final script and start our plans to bring Boob Cruise to stages big and small across Scotland.
Lucy Conway: Eigg resident and Boob Cruise originator and producer.
“I went on my first Boob Cruise in 2014, never questioning going to the mobile breast screening unit when it came to Mallaig wasn’t the right thing to do. Besides, it was a great excuse for a girls’ day out. Fellow islander Sue joked that the whole trip would make a great play. Three years later I put a proposal to the National Theatre of Scotland to develop a play to encourage more women to do as I’d done; go and get screened. With support from NTS’s Starter for Ten programme, I then approached Right Lines writers Euan and Dave to add their talent for writing popular issue-based comedy so loved by audiences across Scotland, but particularly the Highlands and Islands.
We spoke with breast cancer specialists, health behaviour psychologists, and the women who run the breast screening service. Their varying perspectives and huge experience were immensely helpful. We started to change direction!
Headline public health information is primarily targeted at the 25% of women who don’t go for screening for fear of pain, discomfort or embarrassment.
Like me, many who get their invitation to screening don’t read accompanying leaflet that explains the risks and benefits closely enough – we just trust screening is best and head out to get our breasts squeezed inelegantly between two x-ray plates.
However, as we researched further, we discovered a growing debate around the need and efficacy of screening. We spoke to women living in different parts of the Highlands and Islands to find out how they felt about breast cancer screening. What they thought about the idea of going, why they might not, what screening feels like, and what’s like waiting for the results.
Gradually the idea of Boob Cruise moved from sharing the overriding public health message, to the more complex waters of how each woman reaches the best decision for themselves.”
Euan Martin and Dave Smith: Right Lines Productions
Right Lines Productions is run by writers Euan Martin and Dave Smith. Right Lines has a long history of writing popular and entertaining comedy theatre, shows such The Accidental Death of an Accordionist, Who Bares Wins, Whisky Kisses, Rapid Departure, and most recently, The Isle of Love.
"Lucy floated the idea of Right Lines writing a comedy called Boob Cruise when Right Lines rehearsed and opened our climate change comedy Rapid Departure on the Isle of Eigg in 2015. My initial reaction was to laugh out loud – was she suggesting Right Lines should chart a course into the murky waters of adult entertainment?
We all know someone – family members, friends, colleagues – who have had direct experience of breast cancer. However, I was less aware of the issues surrounding mammography and frankly, I had never considered there was an option “to screen, or not to screen.”
"When Lucy first suggested Boob Cruise as a play I was immediately engaged. Dramatically, the idea of a community of women heading off together on a small boat for their mammogram appointments, was exciting. It was the perfect context to delve into personal stories and characters, and openly discuss breast cancer screening from a variety of viewpoints.
With the experience of Eigg's women as inspiration, Boob Cruise had the potential for all the usual elements of humour and pathos that we like to include in Right Lines shows. All this, and happy associations with Eigg, meant I was onboard with the idea from the very beginning."
With support from Playwrights' Studio, Scotland, Dave and Euan wrote the draft script in Sweeney's Bothy on Eigg.
Seven of Scotland’s best loved actors have agreed to present our online rehearsed reading. This is what they think of the idea and the draft script.
It will cost £2,500 to create and screen a rehearsed reading of Boob Cruise. The £2,500 will be used to:
- contract seven professional actors to rehearse and perform the reading
- record an online rehearsed reading of the play
- present the rehearsed reading exclusively to our Crowdfunder supporters and an invited audience of specialist breast cancer health professionals, arts promoters and theatre professionals on 1st October 2021
- following the rehearsed reading, present an online Q&A session with the creative team and some of the actors
- collect and collate feedback from our Crowdfunder supporters, our health and theatre professionals
- incorporate your feedback into a final version of the Boob Cruise script
- edit and distribute extracts of the rehearsed reading of Boob Cruise to help raise funding for a full-scale touring production of Boob Cruise and to share with theatres and village hall promoters to secure bookings.
If we raise more than £2,500 we will
- use it as match funding in an application to Creative Scotland to tour Boob Cruise round Scotland's theatres and village halls
- donate 20% of any excess to the charity www.breastcanceruk.org.uk