Pulborough playwright’s inspiring drama tackles a tough subject

Sarah Milton. Picture by Daniel Sutka
Sarah Milton. Picture by Daniel Sutka

A play which began its journey on the week-long HighTide Writer’s Academy 2015 for 16-25 year-olds, in association with Chichester Festival Theatre, is to be performed in London.

Lucy Light, by Pulborough’s Sarah Milton, tells the story of Jess and Lucy.

Sarah explains: “Starting when they’re 15, the play maps the journey of Lucy’s decision to have a premature bilateral prophylactic mastectomy (removal of both breasts). We follow the girls from ages 15 to 26 as they develop as women, deepen their understanding of their own identities and battle with Lucy’s knowledge of the likelihood that she will develop breast cancer.”

Sarah added: “The piece seeks to examine female friendship and the choice of removing your breast tissue prematurely after diagnosis of the BRCA One gene (the gene that makes you 80 percent more likely to develop breast cancer) and the effect that the diagnosis has on women, both physically and psychologically.

“Lucy Light is a fast-paced, inspiring two-hander show that additionally involves a soundtrack of ’00s and modern pop songs

“What’s it like to just develop your breasts and then be told it’s wise to take them away? How do we define our female identity without our full physical female form?”

“One of the catalysts for Lucy Light was observation of the cases of Angelina Jolie’s decision to remove her breasts and ovaries early due to being a carrier of the BRCA One gene and also the death of UK reality star Jade Goody whose cervical cancer wasn’t spotted in time.

“Lucy Light explores the interrupted journey that every young woman has to go on: the development of breasts, hips, shape and sexual desire.

“Lucy’s natural journey is stalled by her diagnosis and dealing with the death of her mum. Her impending choices are made infinitely more mature than she’s ready to be. Jess wants to be the supportive best friend but depends so much on Lucy for support herself that the two simply collide. Jade Goody’s death was cruel and fast, and Angelina Jolie’s choice was probably one of the hardest she had to make but when you watch celebrities make these sorts of choices and go through these difficult times they’re still far enough away to only allow empathy to affect an onlooker for a short period of time. There is no doubt that there was a rise in cervical smears after Jade Goody’s passing, which was wonderful, but it’s now dropped again and so I wanted to make a piece of theatre that explored the developing female form in an intimate space where empathy for this issue could truly occur and linger.

“Theatre’s a real moment in time where you share in that experience of active decision-making, and I think an issue like this can’t just exist on the news where information blurs into one.”

Sarah was 23 and wrote the last scene first while attending the HighTide Writer’ Academy. This scene was showcased at The HighTide Festival in Aldeburgh that same year. After that, Sarah began writing the whole play. In May 2016, Lucy Light was presented as one of the top six submitted plays to The Steyning Festival, as a professional reading. It now receives its full professional production from the Theatre N16, from September 19-October 7 at N16, 77 Bedford Hill (Above The Bedford), Balham, London.

Sarah grew up in West Chiltington and Pulborough. She attended Rydon Community College in Storrington and Steyning Grammar School and sixth-form in Steyning. She then trained professionally as an actor at Mountview Academy in London.

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