Last week I was on Facebook and happened to see several posts by women I really admire about a new show they’d seen called MotherStruck! As a frequent theater goer, marketer and producer, I was instantly intrigued. It appeared to be a raw, honest show about motherhood starring a single Jamaican poet named Staceyann Chin living in Brooklyn.
The show is also directed by Cynthia Nixon and produced by Rosie O’Donnell, two women I admire immensely, particularly for the contributions to NYC theater they have both made over the years. I immediately wanted to get the show on my agenda.
And I’m so glad I did. Staceyann appeared familiar to me at the start. She got her start in the 1990s at a poetry cafe called the Nuyorican Cafe in the East Village, where I frequently went for a dose of culture in my 20s and remember her strong, brave delivery that I witnessed in person back then. Her 100-minute one woman show is intense and gripping, and her delivery so compelling. It is no wonder that Nixon and O’Donnell joined up with her to make sure her story gets told. The combination of their power and commitment to her story is bold, courageous and significant particularly because the play hasn’t had the smoothest road. Performances were initially scheduled to begin September 24 at Culture Project’s Lynn Redgrave Theater, but were delayed indefinitely due to a lack of resources.
But Nixon and O’Donnell, and a whole slate of producers, saw MotherStruck!’s potential and pushed through to make this show happen. They clearly felt Chin’s message and story was one that needed to be told and waited until the resources were in place. Nixon has been vocal about her involvement and passion in Chin’s story:
…I was stunned by Staceyann’s ability to recall in such depth biographical details of her life, both recent and long ago. 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. Staceyann is a national treasure, and I’m so proud and excited to be part of the telling of this most precious chapter in her life.
A Personal Journey to Motherhood
MotherStruck! is about Chin’s personal journey to motherhood as a single woman, lesbian and activist who does not have health insurance or a “serious, stable financial set up,” but wants to have a child, which she eventually does via IVF. Told through her uniquely personal and poetic lens, it explores how the process changed her life and how she makes peace with what she learns along the way. It’s not only about the people who help her but primarily about how she helps herself. She’s strong and talks about the challenges she faced growing up and how these challenges have made her a better mother.
The result is pretty harrowing yet completely uplifting. Chin’s honesty about the challenges of motherhood are so relatable and is a dose of reality that all women face. I found myself nodding and smiling in commiseration despite our different experiences. As expected, Nixon’s directorial techniques that make her story even more compelling. As Chin tells the audience about the challenges of getting pregnant and becoming a mother, she walks around the theater looking audience members directly in the face. Music is played to amplify moments and the sparse set with a big orange pillow somehow works perfectly to accompany her storytelling method.
I’m not typically a one-man show lover, but MotherStruck! was different. It’s special and a show you need to see, one that I hope you see.
The Lynn Redgrave Theater is located at 45 Bleecker St., New York. Tickets can be purchased by calling OvationTix at (866) 811-4111 or online at CultureProject.org., or we have a 20% off discount code for you – just click here.
Disclosure: I was not compensated to write this review and all opinions are my own.