ROBIN GORMAN NEWMAN CHATS WITH: SUSAN ROSE AND JOAN STEIN, PRODUCERS/CONCEIVERS, MOTHERHOOD OUT LOUD, THE NEW OFF BWAY SHOW
Susan (left photo): I was a active Broadway Producer in the 80's. When my daughter Samantha was born, I decided to become a full time mom. When she started first grade, I began working part time. I teamed up with a partner in LA, and we developed/produced movies for television. When Sammi was in High School, I saw the Sara Jones's show BRIDGE AND TUNNEL. It explored the Immigrant experience in such a unique way, and I came out asking what is another universal subject that could be presented theatrically, and immediately thought MOTHERHOOD.
Joan, how did you and Susan come to partner on it?
Joan (right photo): Susan and I met 25 years ago in NY -- we were part of the "young turks" in the NY theatre -- and worked together producing on and off broadway as well as being part of The Producers Group -- an organization comprised of young commercial producers --and we have been friends since then.
We each have had our own experiences with motherhood -- for 10 years, my husband and I tried to have a family -- after fertility operations, a miscarriage, and 3 failed adoptions - we finally decided that we had to focus our lives on what we have, and not on what we don't have. And what we have includes loving friends and families, as well as a relationship with our niece and nephew -- which is as close to parental as one can get without being the actual parents. Both of them now have children of their own, and we are lucky enough to still be very close. My niece refers to me as "Aunt Mommy" -- which is just about the sweetest compliment I could ever imagine.
What are some of the subjects addressed, and how did you choose the particular playwrights included?
Susan: We figured out that it would be hard to attract the interest of one writer to write the show. Writers who write solo shows have their own ideas and are usually working on something personal to them. We decided to create a show by a group of writers to share varied mothering experiences. We wanted it to be authentic, real and honest, and the play covers diverse subjects such as immigrant moms, adoption, special needs children and same sex parenting. More importantly, it explores the life cycle and how mothers always have a role regardless of how old your children are.
What is the message you hope people will take away from the show?
Joan: I hope that everyone who sees the show will feel united by this universal experience -- after all, we all are mothers and/or have mothers -- and know that this one word -- Motherhood - expresses membership in the same club where we have different, vital, meaningful experiences.
Tell us about the history of the show prior to arriving in NY? How did it come to be produced at Primary Stages?
Joan: Susan and I started by reaching out to writers whom we know and asking them to share their personal stories with us. All in all, we gathered more than 35 stories! About a year into this process, we brought Lisa Peterson in to direct and help develop the play. The show started to take shape, and we had to make the difficult decision of which pieces best fit into the structure. That was the hardest part, because all the stories were wonderful -- but we knew we had to keep the play at a manageable length. After several staged readings and workshop productions, we had our world premiere at Hartford Stage Company in March 2010, followed by a west coast premiere at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles in February 2011, and now we are looking forward to our NYC debut at Primary Stages this fall. We came to each of those theatres through personal relationships and with the imprimatur of having 15 of the best playwrights in the country represented in MOTHERHOOD OUT LOUD.
What has the reaction of the cast been to the material?
Susan: A lot of our cast members are moms and really connect with the material. Even if they aren’t mothers, everyone has a mother.
Have you gotten feedback from moms/dads who’ve seen the show?
Joan: Sometimes I watch the audience during a performance, and I see men and women nodding as they identify with the material -- whether it is about the questions confronting a young mom, or the things that none of us want to say out loud until we realize that everyone else is feeling or has had the same unspoken thoughts. Everyone has a story, and everyone wants to be heard. MOTHERHOOD OUT LOUD encourages us to celebrate our similarities and our differences -- and above all -- to appreciate Motherhood, traditional or not -- as the most rewarding, difficult and important contribution you can make to a person's life.
Susan, you’re a mom. Was there anything from your parenting experience that played a role in the development of the show? Now that your daughter is 21, any advice you’d care to share with moms of young children?
Susan: When we presented the first workshop of the play, my daughter, who is an only child, was a Senior in High School, and she had just been accepted to George Washington University. Leslie Avayzian's "Threesome" in MOTHERHOOD OUT LOUD is about being an Empty Nester, and I still cry every time I hear it.
Nothing prepares you for Motherhood. I didn't grow up around alot of babies and younger children. When my daughter was born, I had never changed a diaper. I always wanted children, and having them was not easy, so when Sammi entered our lives, I really embraced Motherhood. I am a huge multi-tasker, but I found especially in the early years of raising a child, it is all consuming and leaves little room for other pursuits..at least in my experience. Today, mothers can, thanks to social networking, connect readily with others to share experiences. It makes it less isolating, and that's a help on a day-to-day basis when you're caught up in the tasks that come with parenting. So, make a point of reaching out. You're never alone.
What are future plans for the production?
Joan: We are planning on taking MOTHERHOOD OUT LOUD all over the country and world -- this is a subject matter that touches everyone's hearts - and we want to reach as many as possible. We are so proud to be part of this extraordinary collection of talent, and are humbled by the beautiful, funny, moving quilt of stories they have created -- this show, similar to Motherhood itself, is nothing like what we imagined, and better than we could have ever hoped for.
For information about MOTHERHOOD OUT LOUD, visit http://www.motherhoodoutloud.com. The show dates at Primary Stages in NYC are September 20th - October 29th.
Robin Gorman Newman, is Associate Producer of MOTHERHOOD OUT LOUD and founder, http://www.MotherhoodLater.com, a community/resource for those parenting later in life. Motherhood Later has a group outing to see the show on Friday, 9/23, 8pm, followed by a TalkBack moderated by Robin and featuring Susan and Joan, playwrights, etc. To purchase a discount ticket for that evening, use code MOM923 and visit Primary Stages.