La Cañada Flintridge resident Megan Oberle describes the ongoing theatrical production “Expressing Motherhood” as a “fantastic” way to showcase all the different forms of the maternal experience.
Oberle would know better than most. She performed in the show, which features a series of first-person accounts centered on motherhood, in December 2017. She’s set to return in March to the Lyric Hyperion Theatre & Café in Los Angeles’ Silver Lake neighborhood.
Cast members “may be writers, they may be performers, they may have been out of the entertainment industry for a bit due to mothering or be active in their industry,” and their performance pieces are “something they’ve created in the theme of motherhood,” Oberle said. “Sometimes it’s mothers writing about their own experience being mothers. Sometimes it’s mothers writing about being mothered. Sometimes it’s people who aren’t mothers but writing about their own mothers. It’s about motherhood and its many shapes and forms and iterations.”
The show is the brainchild, in part, of another LCF mother.
Resident Lindsay Kavet co-created the production in 2008, when she was a stay-at-home mom at age 29. The Silver Lake performances are set for 4 p.m. Feb. 24, 7 p.m. Feb. 26-27, 4 p.m. March 24 and 7 p.m. March 26-27. There will be a different cast each month.
Kavet said her reason for creating the production with Jessica Cribbs was twofold.
“I felt like I was not being told stories about motherhood on television or film that I could identify with,” Kavet said in a recent interview. “I also wanted to be creative and do something again. I wanted to write a play but I barely had enough time, having children at the time. It all just kind of came together, putting on a play and letting people share stories about motherhood. It was in a theater, talking about subjects that TV or mainstream media were shying away from back then.”
Though Hollywood might be widening its range of stories about parenting, Kavet said there’s still a lot of viewpoints left for “Expressing Motherhood” to explore.
“Especially those women who are 40 and above,” Kavet said. “That’s why we more need stories.”
The show has also featured men, but it has generally stuck to the format that has brought it success, Kavet said. Within 10 months of the show’s opening in Los Angeles, it had sold-out performances in New York’s off-Broadway.
“We knew we had something,” Kavet said. “It really started snowballing. It built this huge community across the nation. We took it to Boston and it sold out … Chicago, Iowa, South Dakota and a lot of other cities as well. Four years ago, I started letting local producers take these shows to cities and I would guide and produce them remotely from Los Angeles. I still travel. I went to Portland, Oregon, twice last year. I had moms emailing me constantly. They want the show to come to them. There’s such a demand it’s hard to almost keep it going. It’s a good and bad thing.”
Kavet said the show has a new cast and potential participants send in submissions, a process that has changed as people send links to websites or Instagram pages. She helps curate the pieces, which have to be five minutes long.
“We always have a wide range of topics,” Kavet said. “The first person I cast was a gay man. I had done some theater scouting and I wanted him in the show. We’ve had men and women who are not mothers either by choice or cannot have children genetically. So we really try to get as many people as we can.”
There is an average of about 12 people per show, with all of the pieces in some way referencing motherhood, Kavet said.
“The first time, the pieces went too long,” Kavet said. “It was no one’s fault but my own, but I learned. The cast has stayed about the same size. There’s lots of energy. People really seem to enjoy it. We had an actor on ‘The Office’ who just came to the show because his wife, Ursula Whittaker, was there. It was Oscar Nuñez, and he said, ‘I would come even if [my wife] weren’t in it.’ Men who come enjoy it. Even a lot of women who don’t want to come will say, ‘I don’t want to hear a bunch of women complaining.’ Then they’ll see it and say, ‘It’s amazing. Why isn’t this in more places? Why isn’t this on TV?’ I hear that a lot.”
Ro Calderoni, pastry chef and owner of Rojos Bakery in LCF, sponsored a show in January after seeing the production in November with a couple of friends and some local moms.
“I was really impressed and moved by the stories,” Calderoni said. “Many were completely different stories. From happy ones to ones that were hard to hear, it was a great experience. I’m a mom and a business owner, and I wanted to show a little support for this show. It’s not only for moms or women, but it’s a great way to listen to different kinds of stories and really good ones.”
Oberle said everyone who participates in the show wants to be heard, and getting together to share stories helps mothers not to feel alone.
“Motherhood is so wonderful, and it can be so isolating,” Oberle said. “It’s just so nice to join people and show support and tell stories.”
Tickets for “Expressing Motherhood” are $25 and include a service charge when bought online.
For more information, or to watch previous episodes, visit expressingmotherhood.com.