Mamalode is producing an off-Broadway play this October in Missoula called Motherhood Out Loud. It’s everything they don’t tell you in What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Funny, irreverent, moving and joyous, Motherhood Out Loud shatters traditional notions about parenthood, unveils the comedy and celebrates the deeply personal truths that span and unite generations. In this interview, we speak with Jessica Goldberg, one of the show’s distinguished playwrights, who is also a mom, a screenwriter and an educator.
Tell us about your journey to becoming a playwright.
I wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. I thought I’d write novels or movies... I saw plays as a kid, but it was usually musicals or Shakespeare, and writing for the theater seemed beyond my reach. It was later, when I got to college and found the plays of writers like Fornes and Churchill and Sam Shepard (among many others), I realized that I could tell the kind of stories I wanted to through the theater.
Describe one of the most rewarding and one of the most challenging moments in your career.
Ah... There have been so many challenges. The challenge of supporting myself as a young playwright, the challenge of failure, the challenge of collaborating. But, since we’re on the topic of Motherhood, I’ll talk about that challenge. I’m sure it’s one many working moms relate to—you’re having this amazing, satisfying, completely personally fulfilling experience, but your work takes you away from your child, or makes it harder to be home as much and you always have this gnawing feeling in your heart from being apart from your child. Presently, I’m in New York shooting a show I wrote for Hulu, definitely the most rewarding personal moment of my career, but my daughter is back in LA starting third grade without me. I don’t know if it’s ever possible to make peace with this situation, or if it’s an ever-present challenge of being a working mom.
Talk to us about your experience with Motherhood Out Loud—as a writer and a mom.
I was so moved to be a part of this project. When Lisa Peterson asked me to do it I had been working with families of soldiers at Fort Carson and I had recently talked to the woman with whom my monologue is based. As soon as I had heard her story I knew I wanted to write it somewhere. It, like so many of those unheard, unseen stories from wives and children of soldiers deserved to be heard. I’m so glad they included it in this special evening.
If you could give our audience two reasons why they should see Motherhood Out Loud (or license the play to produce in their own community), what would you say?
I think stories of motherhood are greatly undervalued culturally. There’s the sense that the stories of mothers are somehow un-interesting. I disagree. I think the stories of mothers are some of the most complex and dramatic tales we can tell. This evening of theater is a small window into some of those under represented inner lives. I know when I saw this evening I laughed, I cried, and I related.
There’s a line in Annie Weisman’s monologue where the character has just given birth, and her mother is sitting by her bed and starts to weep, “It hasn’t been 35 years, it has been 35 minutes and you just came out... You’re my baby!” It’s a remarkable experience anyone who has a child comes to understand, you blink and a year has passed, and this creature who was a baby is now 5, and 8, and I can’t imagine what that will feel like, when my daughter has children of her own. This evening captures so many ineffable moments!
I understand this is an evening mothers and daughters will go to together, but I say bring the men in your life! Bring fathers, sons, and grandfathers. They should hear these stories too. These stories are their stories as much as ours.