Laughing through the darkness

Local playwright unveils newest production this weekend


For Laura Pfizenmayer, all the world’s a stage.

More than 100 of her scripts have been performed in theaters across the U.S., many based on difficult events of her own life. Almost all are also comedies written to help lighten the load of each production’s serious subject matter.

“It’s how I process things, I write plays about them,” she said.

In 2018, she faced one of her largest challenges, cancer. When she found herself stuck in her Gulf Shores home last year during the pandemic, she put pen to paper again, and wrote about the struggle. It is touching, painful, and of course, funny. It also has a happy ending: she beat it.

“Cancer Is A Pain In My Ass” will receive its world premiere on the South Baldwin Community Theatre tonight, directed by Jan Hinnen.

Pfizenmayer said cancer is “the scariest word in the English language.” With so many people touched by it she wanted to write an uplifting play about her experience fighting anal cancer. She started with the funny bits, such as the name of her doctor, Dr. Grim.

“You have to wonder what he was thinking in medical school, that maybe he should be a colorectal surgeon. That’s funny,” she said.

Her story is also heartwarming, and hopeful.

“It’s not a regular cancer. It’s a very hard cancer and I beat it. It’s a story worth telling because I wanted to share the fact that I beat it with help from God and doctors and family and friends,” she said.

As she tells the story, the funny, the sad and the gut wrenching, she shares life lessons and reminds her audience that it’s ok to laugh, even in the darkest of days.

“Nobody gets out of this life without the heavy stuff. Without grief and death and dying. But when somebody comes to my play, I want them to laugh - a lot,” she said. “You have to be able to laugh at it to get through it.”

She says her shows, which have touched on losing her mother to dementia and the afterlife, resonate with viewers. After the curtains close many people greet her in the lobby with the phrase, “this is just like my family.”

“That makes me smile,” she says. “We all are touched by pain. You survive and rise above it.”