Ho Wai-On 何蕙安 aka Ann-Kay Lin

Song & Dance of a 3-Time Cancer Survivor



Act 1



Song & Dance of a 3-Time Cancer Survivor was inspired by what I remember as a small child of Cantonese opera that reached the lowest of the social strata. It was like a kaleidoscope, perhaps not valued or respected because it was simply for enjoyment: a toy consisting of a tube containing mirrors and pieces of coloured glass or paper, not of much value, yet the reflections produce endless fascinating patterns visible through an eyehole when the tube is rotated.  The trailer at the end of Act 1 is an exposition of all twelve acts, like the 12 segments that make up a kaleidoscopic pattern.

Male lead:

The heroine, the 3-time cancer survivor, sees a woman at her friend's who is thought to have cancer.  She calms the woman down.  This leads to humorous dialogues on the creation of a dozen humorous Song & Dance pieces like twelve pieces of a colourful kaleidoscope, for everyone to enjoy.

Heroine's Song

I saw this woman at my friend's

in a hell of a state –                              

the lump, suspicious,

perhaps, pernicious –

and my heart went out to her

for I had been there myself,                         

in terror so private and personal,

three times, no less.                         

But each time I came back.          

So, calmly, I told her

“I had cancer three times.”

– in one short simple sentence.

She looked at me,

and all was calm.

Conversation with male lead and chorus


I am the 3-time cancer survivor.

I survived.

I will even write an opera about it.


Survived – might even write an opera about it!

You must be joking.

This is funny.


Once I lived for music and art, for dance and drama –

I created them.  

I combined them.

Then cancer came to destroy me, and them – to tear us all apart.

But time was given back to me – time to live,  

time to reconstruct,  

time to make . . . an opera – what I have always wanted to do!


An opera!  Of course!  (pause, looking around wide-eyed in wonder)  

And this must be it!  

We owe our existence, to you!  

Male lead (with a sense of importance):

The creation has begun!  

(to Heroine, referring to Chorus)

They are living, singing, proof of your survival –

your life is their life.

As long as you live, they live.


They live while I live while they live . . .          

Mmm –– a dozen songs and dances will sustain us all,

and so we all go on.

Male lead:

That goes for me too!  

I depend on you.

We sing each other's worlds into being.

So keep it up!

Please don't stop!          


A non-stop opera of songs and dances . . .

Looking back – though it was not funny at the time,

there're things I can now laugh about.  

You know,

a sense of humour helps,

even if it is black humour.  


Cancer, and humour?!  

You must be joking! (ha ha ha ha ha!)


Yes, a dozen humorous song & dance pieces for you to enjoy,

like twelve pieces of a colourful kaleidoscope –

Yes, the scope, the kaleidoscope, kaleidoscopy –

Whoops!  Not funny anymore!


This is the prelude of the songs & dances.

If this is the prelude can a fugue be far behind?  

Fugue – Italian for 'flight',

is flight from reality – denial.  (getting serious with poker faces)

(possibly computer speech – robot-like, for the next two lines)

Also used for episode of memory loss

following life's stressful situations.  (short pause)

But our heroine does not forget,  (smile, and human speech again)

and she also sees the funny side;

Surprise, Surprise!

Male lead & Chorus:

Here comes the trailer!

Hold on tight to your trolley

as we follow our heroine on her roller-coaster ride

through that dreaded disease –

at the mercy of the forces of good and evil,

friends and foes.  

But which is which?  

Is he saviour,

or vampire?

The NHS itself,

strangled by confusion and bureaucracy,  

seems far from benign.

Who is the smiling surgeon who drops the bombshell?

Will it be defused in time?

Then there are the expected visitors who don't visit.  

Are they indifferent to her plight,

or just terrified for themselves?  

But this is about seeing something good in every situation,

with a sense of the ridiculous and of ambivalence…

You survive, yet there's a surprise awaiting – (sigh then smile)

That's life!

Here is the end of the trailer

and what next?!  

What fun!  But wait!  

Who's this  – approaching?

Oooooo!  Noted killjoy –

Dressed to kill, and thrill, in white

Oooooo – chill!

Hold on to your crucifixes!

Dr Whooooooo?

It's Mr Dracula,

Even worse than Dr Dracula –


Mister means surgeon, it means an operation!

All: Groan!

See next, Act 2:


The heroine's first hospital appointment for 'investigations' –

in her fevered imagination

the masked surgeon becomes a weird mix of devil and movie star.

To see this act in its entirety with production ideas and performance materials etc., see my creative PhD thesis pp. 214-229, Chapter Five 5.1 Act One.

Related music score


See Score 3 相關樂譜   

Related music video (click video thumbnail)