Global ImpACTORS Group Giving Birth to Motherhood Out Loud, By Kelly Herbert James

KJHeadshotThere are some days I would honestly rather be a little kid. Now that I am a parent, I know how much easier it was to be a child. I’m pretty sure my ten-year-old self would disagree, but wondering where to sit on the school bus wasn’t as much of a big deal as I originally thought, at least not when I compare it to the decisions I have to make as an adult. Being a parent is constant work, but most parents will tell you that the pay is totally worth it.

As Mother’s Day approaches, let us take a few moments to thank our mothers. I thank my mom for, well, everything. Sure, we think we know what Mom has gone through to raise such well-adjusted and successful offspring (that’s us, of course), but parenthood is no easy task.

This May, Global ImpACTORS Group (GIG) will prove just that by giving birth to Motherhood Out Loud, a compilation of scenes and monologues encompassing stories of childbirth and raising children to being a great-grandparent—and everything in between.

Based solely on the title, the show obviously deals with motherhood, but we cannot simply call it a play about motherhood.  There are various forms of “motherhood” represented as well, such as adoption and same-sex surrogate issues.

Beneath the simplicity of its title is a show about parenting, worry, heartache, joy, humor, grief, endurance, and so much more. For instance, have you ever spent a sleepless night on the floor of your newborn’s room because you were afraid of waking the baby? If not, consider yourself lucky. I remember one particularly creaky spot on the floor in my daughter’s bedroom. My husband and I would cringe if either of us walked over it after putting our daughter down for the night. Luckily, we moved or I would have seriously had a fluffy part of carpet in that spot on which we never walked.

Was your mom there on your first day of school, smiling and waving, as you ventured out into the world by yourself? Perhaps she was more afraid and concerned than you, but she didn’t show it. I cried on my daughter’s first day, I’ll admit it. But at least I waited until the bus was out of sight. Almost.

How many of us could forget the sex talk that propelled us to early adulthood? Actually, with any luck, you probably have forgotten that.

The truth is that we have all experienced parenthood—even those of us who are not parents.

Motherhood Out Loud explores all of these adventures with an honest eye. It had a successful Off-Broadway run on Primary Stages in New York before recently being acquired by the Macungie-based group. It continues to be a winning show produced across the country, although it’s new to the Lehigh Valley.

Director Tesia Nicoli insists that this show has universal appeal, and even though it showcases many women, it is not strictly a show for women (or even specifically “mothers”). She explains: “We can celebrate women, but not so much to alienate men. I think men will either innately relate to the parenting aspects or they’ll learn more about women—which is a good thing. And at the end of the day these are good, entertaining, heart-felt, humorous, engaging stories. That’s all an audience wants. We deliver that.”

Judith Evans, Krystel Seier, Marcy Repp, Rachel Williams, and Tesia Nicoli

Judith Evans, Krystel Seier, Marcy Repp, Rachel Williams, and Tesia Nicoli

The cast of four men and twelve women will tackle a myriad of topics that nearly everyone can relate to in one way or another. The show also manages to balance poignancy and humor. “The stories are captivating. You might cry, but you will definitely laugh!” Stage Manager Renee Wadsworth adds.

Motherhood Out Loud is a raw, candid—and honestly revealing—look at female relationships. As such, please be advised that some language and content may not be suitable for younger audiences. There are a few four-letter words used, but the words serve a distinct purpose. The vignettes are brutally honest and deeply personal.

According to Nicoli, “GIG strives to bring audiences compelling theatre that speaks to the heart and captivates the mind. We want to evoke questions that open the doors to insightful discussions. Our shows should make you laugh harder, think deeper, and love stronger. When you support a GIG show, you are not only supporting the arts but you are giving to a cause that will improve the world around you.”

GIG gives a percentage of profits from every staged performance to a charity and Motherhood Out Loud is no exception. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. So, if you’re looking for a last-minute gift idea for Mom this Mother’s Day, consider buying her tickets to Motherhood Out Loud, playing May 16-24 at The Macungie Institute, 510 East Main Street, Macungie, PA. For more information, visit gigtheater.com or call the box office at 484-891-1314.

Rachel Williams, Marcy Repp, Tesia Nicoli (in foreground), Judith Evans, and Krystel Seier

Rachel Williams, Marcy Repp, Tesia Nicoli (in foreground), Judith Evans, and Krystel Seier

The cast and production crew from Global ImpACTORS Group’s (GIG’s) latest production took a few minutes of their time to answer some burning questions about Motherhood Out Loud

Why did you want to be a part of Motherhood Out Loud (MOL)?

KRYSTEL SEIER: I am a first time Mom and fell in love with the reviews of the show.

JUDITH EVANS (Assistant Director): I auditioned because I had such a good experience with Spirit of Poe and Love Letters and I am impressed with GIG’s goal…to impact the world through theater – one show at a time.

RACHEL WILLIAMS: I was familiar with the show from its original run. It’s a celebration not only of mothers, but also of parenting in general.

PATTI SQUIRE: I’ve been anticipating working with Tesia since GIG was formed. This was my first opportunity (due to my schedule) and I’m thrilled that it’s Motherhood Out Loud!

TESIA NICOLI (Artistic Director): I just happened to come across this show while I was researching future shows for GIG. Once I read it, I was convinced that this was the next show for GIG.

RENEE WADSWORTH (Stage Manager): I love acting and I love this group, we’ve all become great friends and there is amazing camaraderie between the actors. This is just another great activity to do with friends!

 

Judith Evans, Krystel Seier, and Rachel Williams

Judith Evans, Krystel Seier, and Rachel Williams

What do you love most about theatre?

RACHEL: I love the interaction between the actors, both onstage and off. You really do become very close.

TESIA: It’s awesome that everyone brings his or her individual talent and dedication together to create one beautiful product – the show. I love acting and I love people who love acting and theatre…I get to meet some of the coolest people while doing something that I love.

RENEE: I love all the work that goes into creating something beautiful and then seeing come together and have all the hours pay off.  

PATTI: I love the collaboration to bring something to life and make it believable and relevant.

JUDITH: Meeting new people. And if they are theater people they are sooooo interesting and friendly.

 

What has your experience with GIG been like so far?

JUDITH: As stated earlier, the premise and goal of GIG impresses me the most.

RACHEL: This is my first GIG experience and it has been fantastic! Everyone has been nothing but supportive and welcoming.

TESIA: The experience has been nothing short of incredible. There is something to be said about a group of people who come together out of the love of theater.

PATTI: This is my first experience with GIG as well, but so far I’m impressed with the atmosphere of cooperation and collaboration. Ideas are welcome.

RENEE: GIG is a great organization to work with. They use theatre as a means to give back to the community by benefiting a charity for every show. I’ve been a part of every GIG show and there is a reason I keep coming back!

 

What surprised you the most about MOL?

PATTI: How incredibly funny, poignant, and relevant it is.

RENEE: I almost cried at the first read-through.  I AM NOT A CRIER AND I AND TEARS IN MY EYES! It’s also terribly hysterical. Great balance of emotions.

TESIA: It can bring you to tears in one moment and you’ll be laughing to tears in the next. I didn’t expect it to pull me so hard in every which way – emotionally.

ELLEN ELIZABETH: I was most surprised by the honest and raw mix of emotions that MOL has to offer. Each story offers a unique blend of comedy‚ tragedy‚ victory‚ loss‚ hope‚ heartache‚ love‚ and sacrifice…I find myself becoming lost in an overwhelming whirlwind of emotional sensation. It’s a beautiful experience to become lost in.

JUDITH: I am so surprised by the range of emotions I felt throughout the various pieces in MOL.

KRYSTEL: The array of parenting subject matter that it covers. Just a wonderful representation of parenting in America, not just motherhood today.

RACHEL: How funny and real it is. Every parent and it child will find themselves in one of the characters.

 

What parts of the show are you most excited for audiences to experience?

KRYSTEL: The four Fugues are fast and all very funny and speak to a variety of motherhood personalities at once. Also, I really love the monologue, Queen Esther. It makes me cry every single time.

RENEE: When Tesia says c**k. (Laughs.) 

TESIA: (Smiles) Thanks, Renee. I just can’t pick one specific part of the show. I’m most excited to hear the reactions from the audience. I think they’re going to be really surprised at how much they enjoy it.

PATTI: The whole thing.

JUDITH: I can’t wait for the audience to experience this range of emotions.

 

Which of your roles do you find to be the most challenging? Why?

RACHEL: My role in Queen Esther has been a difficult journey so far. It’s so packed with emotion throughout the piece.

PATTI: Tesia may laugh at this. My role in Squeeze, Hold, Release because it’s just not something I can envision saying to my daughter. And I can picture her face when she sees this show. She’s pretty conservative when it comes to her mother.

JUDITH: The most challenging part was paying homage to those amazing mothers we have had – especially mine.  I never knew she had it so rough because she never complained.

KRYSTEL: Michael’s Date is the most challenging piece for me. It speaks on a subject I have no experience in, parenting a child’s first date! How stressful for any parent!

TESIA: All of my roles are challenging, even though they are small. It’s a lot of extra work to direct the show and be in it. I am lucky to have fantastic help with Renee as Stage Manager and Judy as Assistant Director. They pick up where I often leave off. But I do video tape all of the scenes I am in so I can evaluate the action, direction, and vision from an outside perspective.

RENEE: I think the most challenging roles are the difficult stories, like a son taking care of his mother who is showing signs of dementia or Alzheimer and the caretaker role has reversed. [From the piece titled, Elizabeth featuring actor, Eric D. Hersh and actress, Marcy Repp.]

Which of your roles do you find to be the most fun? Why?

RENEE: The Fugues are great!  There is one at the beginning of each chapter and they are quick overlapping comical stories that revolve around the same topic.

RACHEL: I really love all the characters in Sex Talk Fugue. So funny and true to life!

PATTI: Squeeze, Hold, Release for the very reason mentioned above.  If I can pull it off, the audience’s “realization” of what I’m referring to will be so much fun!

JUDY: I love trying to make my role funnier so the audience can relate and laugh out loud.

KRYSTEL: Oh, I love my crazy Mom character in New in the Motherhood; she is a nut!

TESIA: Agreed – without a doubt – the most fun is New in the Motherhood. The two mothers are just awful and too much fun to play. But I am also enjoying the Sex Talk Fugue…and saying a certain special word Renee referred to earlier.

 

Which of the roles do you find to be the most touching? Why?

RENEE: The most touching role is Rachel’s piece, Queen Esther. A woman has a son who prefers to wear dresses and she supports him and lets him wear what he wants even though the rest of the world is extremely judgmental.

JUDITH: The most touching part is knowing that a mother’s love is unconditional…no matter what.  And it is a mother’s job to make sure their child knows this.

TESIA: Many of them are touching in their own distinct ways. But for me, Stars and Stripes and Queen Esther are the two that tug at my heartstrings the hardest.

 

Why is this show worth seeing?

JUDITH: Every child should make it a point to bring their mom to this show.  Every mom will love it and be grateful that the “real” motherhood story is finally being told…OUTLOUD!

RACHEL: It applies to us all. Whether you are a parent or a child there is something here for you.

PATTI: It is so well written and so funny and so poignant.  It touches on every aspect of motherhood.  I think all women who see it will be able to relate, not just mothers.

RENEE: Everyone needs to come see this show because whether you are a man, a woman, a mother, a daughter or a son, you are going to relate to the stories.

 

How does this show relate to (and appeal to) everyone – not just mothers?

TESIA: Because it’s about human issues. It’s about how we all feel the same universal connections. How we can love someone so much, and we’d do anything for them…yet we are all flawed, and we all have to find ways to deal with those flaws.

ELLEN: I myself am not a mother; nor do I ever believe that it would be a role that I could personally commit to on a level of selflessness that it requires. But I absolutely can relate to so much of this show – from my own perspective of a daughter‚ grandchild‚ sister‚ friend‚ and personal identity-seeking female. Everyone‚ of any age‚ gender‚ race‚ or sexuality can gain so much from this show.

KRYSTEL: If you have a mother, grandmother, or a mother figure in your life, this show will speak to you.

 

What one major thing did you learn from this show (or because of this show)?

TESIA: I now know what gyrotonics are! If you have back issues, I suggest you look into it.

KRYSTEL: This show has reinforced the idea that motherhood is simply about knowing your child and listening to your child. No book or fellow parent can tell you the best way to raise you and your family.

RENEE: To call my mom, visit more often and hug a little longer.

ELLEN: This show has made me more conscious than ever of just how interconnected absolutely everyone is in this world. No one is ever as alone as they fear; no one has to be. If we would all open up to each other with compassion and honesty‚ we’d realize just how worthy we are of having our stories heard.

 

What are you most looking forward to during the live performances?

RACHEL: I love the high you get from finally feeling the energy from an audience. It’s fantastic to be able to share all of everyone’s hard work with an audience.

PATTI: Our ability to  “touch” the audience and make them FEEL our touch.

TESIA: The show as a whole – and the audience response. And as a mother, I’m excited for my daughter, Jada, to be a part of this show as well.

RENEE: Seeing each actor and actress come alive under the lights.

 

What do you hope the audiences will take away from this show?

RENEE: a good laugh and a warm fuzzy feeling in their hearts.

RACHEL: That we’ve all been there. Whether you’re a new mom, a grandmother, or somewhere in between, we all have these complicated and wonderful relationships.

PATTI: That GIG is the company they will anticipate seeing more quality productions from.

TESIA: I am confident that audiences will be touched and they’ll feel that the show was worth their time. And I hope they spread the word!