The New Play 'The Mamalogues' Looks At Mothering While Black, Unmarried, And Middle Class
“It came from personal experience,” says playwright Lisa B. Thompson of her new play, The Mamalogues. “I wanted to talk about women that were like me, that I didn’t see represented in… in anywhere.”
Thompson saw a lack of characters in popular culture that were like her – “single mothers [who are] middle class, or upper middle class… and navigating a world where nobody expects us to be anywhere we are.” So she wrote a play all about those women. Part of the goal, she says, is “to have a broader conversation about what single motherhood looks like, particularly for black women who have been kind of depicted as the only single mothers in the universe, and also that they’re always under resourced financially. So how does that conversation change when we look at women who are not under resourced and who have cultural capital and are navigating the world as single parents?”
Also, Thompson is quick to add with a laugh, “So it’s a comedy!”
Director Rudy Ramirez agrees. “While the play is touching on some very serious issues, at its core it’s about finding ways to laugh,” he says. “Even if it’s an angry laugh.”
Thompson says all the characters in The Mamalogues reflect parts of her. “They’re all part of me, yes, in different ways. I think there’s a bit of me in each of the women,” she says. “And it’s nice to think about the arc of the writing of this piece, because I started when my son was probably one year old, and now he’s thirteen. As he got older, there are different things that come into play. Now you’re moving from the daycare scene to schools and clubs and… sports and all those things.”
Thompson says The Mamalogues is the middle installment in a loose trilogy. “My first play [was] Single Black Female, and then now The Mamalogues is I think the second installment in a trilogy, and the third one will be… about what it means for us to talk about aging. And particularly, people talk about women becoming older and becoming invisible, but black women are often already invisible… so what does it mean to be an older black woman?”
'The Mamalogues' is produced by Color Arc Productions and the Vortex and is onstage at the Vortex August 23 - September 7.