What we’re learning

When it comes to starting a family, women in the theatre industry are faced with unique challenges. Lack of flexible childcare availability, unsociable and inflexible working hours, and travel away from home are just a few of the issues that prevent women from returning to work in theatre. It’s quite clear from our own experience and the feedback we’ve received throughout our research that the decision to become a mother often means that women in the theatre don’t have the same opportunities as their male counterparts, nor are their voices heard or represented on the stage. The mother’s journey is one that is rarely told on stage, but according to our audience, it is one that is indeed interesting.

When creating original/devised work, time needs to be allocated for writing, creation of new material and music composition. Mothers of small children rarely have such luxury of time and thus this loss of time needs to be accounted for elsewhere in the process and budget.

One might assume that one has to be a mother in order to appreciate hearing stories of motherhood. But we question why that need be important. When a non-parent audience member stated they had felt “isolated” from the themes in Baba’s Song, another non-parent theatre maker passionately defended the theme in stating that most of us in England have never been to war, but that doesn’t stop us from appreciating stories around the theme of war. We would agree. Based on the majority of our audience feedback, the story of motherhood is valid, valuable and entirely underrepresented. The purpose of our research wasn’t to delve deep into the social reasons why motherhood is a non-topic for story telling on the stage, but it is interesting to note it’s absence.

Venues that we spoke to are entirely open to holding relaxed, daytime performances for mothers with babies. The Wardrobe Theatre are already doing this. One of our audience members at the Straw Kitchen café, works at a children’s centre and told us that she thought Baba’s Song could easily be performed in a children’s centre space and be well received by the mother audience there. The owner of Straw Kitchen, exclaimed that the rural audience was thrilled to have experienced our work and felt that rural (mothers especially) would benefit from seeing the show. Another women, who both suffered from postnatal depression and works for a charity that supports other women with PND, declared that “Theatre (and this show) are such powerful tools for allowing these mothers voices and experiences to be shared, hopefully breaking down the stigma that surrounds the ‘depressed and anxious mother’!” Chloe Scholefield

This says to us that our work and stories about motherhood is far reaching and beneficial to society.

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