Traveling over every inch of stage and weaving in between aisles and making eye contact with audience members, Staceyann Chin will take you with her on a journey from menarche to motherhood in her autobiographical show MotherStruck! at the Lynn Redgrave Theater. You’ll bear witness to all the hardships and obstacles that she, a single, Caribbean, Asian, lesbian, poet faces along the way to motherhood in New York City.
Directed by Cynthia Nixon (Sex & the City) and produced by Rosie O’Donnell with NYC Culture Project, Mothestruck! is Staceyann Chin’s ode to women who want to be mothers but discover how difficult it is when your healthcare system and your wallet and your body conspire against you.
Author of the memoir, The Other Side of Paradise, Chin is no newcomer to the stage. Upon moving from Jamaica to New York City, she quickly found her place at open mic night at the Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe. She co-wrote and performed on Broadway in Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam and performed in three one-woman shows before creating MotherStruck! It is no surprise that Cynthia Nixon and Rosie O’Donnell chose to work with her on this most recent project.
She is leading a remarkable life that is fascinating to hear about because of the many seemingly insurmountable obstacles she has overcome, but it is also fascinating because of the way in which she chooses to tell you about it – the humor, the drama, the poetry, the political backdrop, the jaw-dropping specificity – that compels you to listen as long as she is speaking. -Cynthia Nixon
Staceyann Chin’s experiences and observations about pregnancy and motherhood expose a society that smiles upon the young and wealthy, hetero-married while making motherhood painfully difficult for those who do not have both womb and sperm or cash to cover the cost of fertility treatments.
From insemination to pregnancy to birth, we are a part of Chin’s journey, experiencing the frustrations, disappointments, and triumphs in every scene. We hold our breath until she gets pregnant, exhaling to laugh at the absurd and comical-grateful for the humor embedded even in the most stressful situations. Some of my favorite scenes combine vivid imagery with acrobat-like physical comedy as she moves and contorts her body so that we can fully appreciate each message and every emotion.
You’ll most likely connect to a number of Staceyann’s experiences as a woman on a mission to mother, and you’ll certainly understand the reality that sets in for all mothers after a baby is born. “Now what?” she asks after she realizes that the real work begins when we take responsibility for another life. Are we good enough? Will we make the same mistakes that our mothers made? Do we have to sacrifice all that we are for all we want for our children?
A scene that speaks to the priorities that change once we have children is the gentrification reality check. Staceyann describes what happens when wealthy, white people move to “up and coming” neighborhoods. She tells us how they inflate rents and force the less affluent, brown people out, and the audience bristles with disgust. And then she tilts the prism to reveal another reality. Gentrification brings a variety of shops and restaurants, sure, but it also brings cops who actually protect the neighborhood, making it easier to be a dyke and safer for dykes to raise children, even though all of the children are white. What’s a cash-poor, lesbian of color with a child supposed to do?
We feel the power of MotherStruck! when we connect to Chin’s truth and to each other in the process. Working on VillageQ has always been about connecting a community that so often feels disconnected. We provide an online space where we can share our queer stories, validate our experiences, and inspire conversation. I am grateful for Staceyann Chin who shares her story with fierce, unapologetic words. I hope that our VillageQ community is able to check out MotherStruck! and further connect with each other as well as support a talented poet mama!!
Opening Night is Monday, December 14 at The Lynn Redgrave Theater, 45 Bleecker Street (at Lafayette), New York City.
- Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30pm
- Friday at 8pm
- Saturday at 4pm and 8pm
- Sunday at 5pm
In the meantime, treat yourself to LivingRoomProtests featuring Staceyann and spectacular daughter Zuri! Here’s the first installment:
I participated in the MotherStruck! blog program and received compensation but all opinions are my own.