Mom’s the Word
Story/photo by Casey Lessard
Whether you’ve dropped a baby, faced a diaper-pail tidal wave, shot milk from your breast or left your child on the roof of a moving vehicle, you know being a mom is no day at the beach. If none of those things have happened to you, you should see Mom’s the Word to get a better sense of what it took to raise a kid like you.
An ensemble version of a one-woman show, the play blends monologues by five women (six in the original show) who are new mothers.
“We’d all been working in the theatre in Vancouver,” says director Robin Nichol, who was one of the six women who wrote the play, “and we’d all had babies around the same time and the bottom had dropped out of our careers. We met regularly. We talked a lot. We laughed a lot and whined a lot and laughed a lot but we never wrote anything down. Then finally at the last minute this festival that we were booked into was coming up so we kind of said, ‘You tell that story and you tell that one.’ It just came about in a kind of organic, West Coast kind of way.”
Assuming the show would appeal to new moms only, the group was shocked at the overwhelmingly positive response from a diverse audience. After a successful nine-month run in Vancouver, the play traveled the world and has been translated into a dozen languages over the past ten years.
“It is the easiest part I’ve ever had to play,” says actor Louise Gauthier, who as Linda, demands understanding from her partner. “My child is five so there wasn’t too much digging or research that needed to happen. Now I just have to wait for my husband to come and see the show to see what he thinks (laughs). I hope he doesn’t feel too bashed.”
“You’re trying to figure out how to best tell the story,” says Birgitte Solem, whose character’s son is born premature, “how to get people to laugh and how you make sure people understand what you’re talking about. Robin is so good with getting the best out of everybody.”
As Deborah, Alex Dallas has to bare all for the audience, and we’re not just talking about her emotions.
“The first time I did this show in Thunder Bay,” Dallas says, “they went, ‘By the way, you’re naked.’ I went, ‘Oh. OH!’ It was fine because we worked it out tastefully. Tastefully, Grand Bend. You don’t have to be scared. It’s so funny and it fits in with the concept of the show so well. Anything for comedy! At the bottom line, we’re all just naked human beings that put on clothes and try to deal with jobs and children and marriages and all these things. People love it because they really relate.
“I have a fourteen year old daughter who’s coming up soon and I’m going to persuade her to see it because I told her about the nudity and she said, ‘What? No, I don’t want to see that.’ I think I will persuade her.”
“A lot of people come up to us, namely mothers, and say they felt liberated or ‘I feel like I’m not alone, let me tell you the story about my day from hell,’” says Sharon Heldt, who portrays the role written by the play’s director Robin Nichol. “It’s all supposed to be cuddly and wonderful and it’s not always like that. We all know that. We all gave our parents trouble on the road.”
“I find that children are really brilliant,” says Ginette Mohr, who is not a mom herself. “They say the most amazing things. They have fantastic observations. I learned a lot from actually being with kids. I’m looking forward to that.”
“It’s a hard job,” says Dallas. “Moms out there will know. And we should all get credit for it, I think.”