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Plays to raise funds for ‘warrior’ Tessa

Thursday, 12th September, 2019 8:45am

Two plays written by a Cork playwright will be performed this evening with all proceeds going to help a 22 month old girl with a rare cancer.

Derry Cotter, a former lecturer at UCC, heard of little Tessa Garry’s fight with an extremely rare form of cancer known as Neuroblastoma in April of this year and immediately contacted the family.

“When I saw the funding request I was very anxious to do something if I could. Tessa’s father and her godmother Una O’Sullivan are both past students of mine, so I have a kind of connection with them,” Mr Cotter told the Cork Independent.

Mr Cotter’s plays, both of which are one act plays approximately 50 minutes long, will be performed this evening and tomorrow evening with tonight’s proceeds all going to the Little Miss Tessa Trust.

The first play, ‘Journey’, takes place in a rural pub somewhere in contemporary Ireland.

“The play has three characters who are going through the journey of life. It looks at life as a journey and it looks at death as something that everybody has to face. There’s a lot of humour in it even though it’s to some extent a serious subject,” said Mr Cotter.

The second play, ‘Per Verse’, is set in a bookshop in Dublin city in the 1980s and looks at Irish soldiers who fought in World War Two.

Mr Cotter said: “It’s about Irish soldiers who return from the Second World War and, even though they fought for freedom against Nazi Germany, they find themselves very much outcasts in post-war Ireland when they are looked down upon for having fought with the British army.”

Toddler Tessa Garry was diagnosed with stage four, high risk Neuroblastoma, a cancer of the central nervous system, in December 2018 when she was just 14 months old.

Una O’Sullivan, Tessa’s godmother, has been tirelessly working to raise the much needed funds for Tessa’s medical costs since her diagnosis.

“It’s been really gruelling. She’s had chemotherapy and she’s had surgery and she’s had a stem cell transplant within the last eight months. It’s been really difficult for the family,” Ms O’Sullivan told the Cork Independent.

Neuroblastoma is the most life threatening form of cancer in children and to give Tessa the best chance at survival, her family hope to send her to the USA to undergo a clinical trial.

“She’s the youngest of four children and being with her siblings really keeps her going. She was in isolation in Crumlin for seven weeks over the summer. But she’s in isolation at home now, but just being back with her siblings gives her a big boost. She’s a warrior,” said Ms O’Sullivan. She added: “The problem is that relapse is a huge issue with Neuroblastoma, and that occurs in about half of the cases, and when it does occur, the survival rates are very low. That’s why her parents want to bring her to America for a clinical trial.”

Derry Cotter’s plays will be performed in the Dan Donovan Theatre in Presentation College, Mardkye this evening (Thursday) and tomorrow evening starting at 8pm.

Tickets are €12 and can be purchased through Eventbrite or at the door on the night. Parking is free.

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