As mentioned in Part 2 of our Motherhood in the Theatre series titled “An Inconvenient Baby,” one of the many obstacles facing artist parents – mothers and fathers – who work in the theater is theater space that is off-limits to minors. Our goal with Part 3 coming up is to highlight and articulate healthy family-friendly initiatives practiced by theater communities around the country. As a pre-cursor to this final installment, a photo essay turned out to be the best way to highlight how children in the space can not only work, but work fluidly, showing the parents, children, and their theater community in action. The Interval published a photo essay recently on keeping “kids in the scene.” It is beautiful and extremely important (and what great exposure!), featuring mothers who work in the theater with their children, showing many mothers known in the theater out with their children or spending time at home, with one photo in the rehearsal space. Every contribution to increase visibility is a win for all of us. Our essay’s focus, however, is on children in the performance/work space and includes dads in as many photos as were submitted as such and was inspired by a conversation with Stage Manager and fellow theater mom Carmelita Becnel (her photos with twins below). It must be said that there should be no expectation of this sort of treatment across the board at all times for all persons from these theaters – the practice is still unregulated. Negotiations, permissions, and boundaries of space are still discussed on a case by case basis for every person and every theater. However, the point of this essay is that on-site child/parent work photo can be one of the most effective and positive tools for increasing visibility of the working-artist parent lifestyle within the theater and the theatre’s need to embrace that lifestyle more consistently across the board.
It may also be argued for the theater-at-large’s benefit that, as a result, youth may return to the theater as appreciators and patrons later on – in addition to becoming potential artistic contributors – because of the early, positive exposure they receive. The question of how to solve a dying audience may be right under our nose – in diapers – immersed in their parents’ creative work, watching the process unfold, and falling in love with the process thanks to welcoming theater communities around the country. In other words, embracing the artist parent lifestyle could very well lead to theatrical growth and audience revival. At the very least, it maintains the principles of acceptance, community, and expansion the theater claims are at its very core. Below, you see just a glimpse of what it looks like when artist parents are allowed to live in their expanded life and work life fluidly.
For entries with multiple photos, click any photo to enlarge and scroll through each artist’s slide show. Enjoy!
(Top Left and Middle) Papa Gregory Linington, Actor, and son Jonah on set for The Tempest, Directed by Ethan McSweeney, Shakespeare Theatre Company. (Top Right) Mama Shana Cooper, Director, and son Jonah, 15 months, exploring the projections on stage during dinner break of rehearsal. (Middle Left) Shana and Jonah, age 1, checking out the drums on break at rehearsal for The Unfortunates, ACT. (Middle Right) Shana and Jonah, age 1, in rehearsal for The Unfortunates, ACT. (Bottom Left) Shana and Jonah, age 1, on stage at dinner break for The Unfortunates, ACT. (Bottom Right) Little Foxes, Arena Stage. Photo by father Gregory Linington, Actor, of Jonah age 21 months.
(All Photos) Miriam Silverman, actor, and Stella age 3, The Goodman Theatre.
“Some of these were during student matinees, I brought Stella with me and an understudy watched her while I went onstage… she would watch me from the monitor. When I would be getting ready it was either screentime or laptime!”
– Miriam Silverman
(All Photos) Miriam Silverman, actor, and Stella age 3, Yale Repertory Theatre.
Kearston J Dillard-Scott, Lighting Designer and Daughter
Harrison Opera House, Norfolk VA
“Designing lights for a dance recital with my little girl!” – Kearston J Dillard-Scott
(Top Left) Matthew, 2.5, “calling his first show.” (Top Right) Kristy Matero, Stage Manager, and Matthew, 23 months, visiting “La Cenorentola” rehearsal. (Bottom) Matthew, 4 months old, with the Director and designers of “Appropriate” at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Co. in DC when tech fell on Halloween.
(Left) Daughter of Noreen Wilson Major, Chief Development Officer at Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington DC, at a photo shoot for the theater. (Middle) Noreen and her daughter in the photo booth at the STC Free For All annual event. (Right) Daughter steps in last minute to perform in a reading of “The Wedding Band” for their ReDiscovery Series.
“Another child dropped out last minute and she fit the age/height requirement.” – Noreen Wilson Major
(Left) John Tufts, Actor, as Chico and son Henry as mini-Groucho Marx on stage at the Daedalus AIDS Benefit talent show, Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF). (Top Right) Christine Albright-Tufts, Actor, John Tufts, Actor, and their son Henry at rehearsal for OSF Daedalus AIDS Benefit talent show. (Bottom Right) Henry on stage with company during rehearsal for OSF Daedalus AIDS Benefit talent show.
Photo credits and link to the OSF event: “The next generation finds Center Stage. Daedalus Day begins bright and early as volunteers from all over the OSF Company and Community gather for a great cause…” Photo Credts: Jenny Graham
“This is the whole fam at an AIDS benefit at OSF.” – Christine Albright-Tufts
(Left) Baby Jo in mother’s studio, Elizabeth Barrett Groth, Designer. (Right) Baby Jo with grandmother at dress rehearsal for Allentown Shakespeare in the Park’s Hamlet, directed by Erik Pearson, performed in Daddona Park in Allentown PA. Jo attended all the fittings for the production with designer mom as well.
Sherrice Mojgani, Lighting Designer
Moxie Theatre, San Diego, CA
“The little guy in front is mine!” – Sherrice Mojgani
Daughter Ruby at the Julliard Costume Shop for mom Mattie Ulrich, Costume Designer for FLIGHT by Jonathan Dove. Directed by James Darrah and conducted by Stephen Osgood. Fitting a muslin mock up for a maternity dress.
“I think this hem needs some adjusting.” – Ruby
Cara Greene Epstein, Actor
Recording a voice-over while swinging her 6 month old son.
(Left) Katie Hartke, Actor, carrying 2 month old daughter in rehearsal for Much Ado About Nothing for Theater at Woodshill in upstate NY. (Right) Katie is joined by real-life husband Ryan Quinn, Actor, playing opposite her in the scene from the same production as his character proposes marriage.
(Left) Kate Marie, Director of Community Collaboration for Benchmark Theatre, with Charli Rose at a reading for a commissioned new play. Photo credit: Susannah McLeod. (Right) Working on a mailer for a local theater in Boulder, CO.
Daughter of co-Authors Irene Carl Sankoff and David Hein embraces choreographer Kelly Devine during hours at Ford’s Theatre in Washington DC.
“[Kelly Devine is] one of the many people who help make the theater a second home for [our daughter].” – Irene Carl Sankoff
(Left) Daughter Vera to Jenna Woods, Stage Manager hanging out on a colleague’s desk at the Production Glue office. (Right) Vera attends an Equity meeting. Pictured at the meeting here with Jenna’s good friend, Diane DiVita, another stage manager.
Erin Moeller, Company Manager for Manhattan Theatre Club, daughter Gwen “(looking overwhelmed!)”, and Winnie Lok,Stage Manager, at MTC’s Friedman Theatre.
Lila Rose Kaplan, playwright, with 14 month old daughter Hailey Diana at tech for mom’s play Home of the Brave at Merrimack Repertory Theatre.
(Top Left) Lilly helps the run crew straighten the silk. Magic Rainforest at Lewis Center for the Arts, Princeton University. (Top Right) Mommy Carmelita Becnel, Stage Manager, and daughter Lilly check out the lights onstage. Magic Rainforest at Lewis Center for the Arts, Princeton University. (Middle Left) Freddy and Mommy Carmelita Becnel support tech. Zoyka’s Apartment. Lewis Center for the Arts, Berlind Theater. (Bottom Left) Twins Lilly and Freddy keep the chairs warm as Dad Jamie Cuthrell, Scenographer, builds in the Costume Shop. The Lawrenceville School. (Right) Freddy assisting with choreography rehearsal. Singing in the Rain. Lewis Center for the Arts, Princeton University.
Shana Gozansky, director, with daughter.
“Visiting me in rehearsal when she was 8 mo!” – Shana Gozansky
Amy Boratko, Literary Manager at Yale Repertory Theatre
Pictured: Daughters Rosalind and Beatrice hanging out at the Yale Repertory Theatre literary office.
(Top Left) Linda-Cristal Young, Staff Electrician, Yale Repertory Theatre. On-site, baby is “Trying to be like mommy!” (Top Right) “Learning the light board.” YRT. (Bottom) Making paper airplanes with old light plots.
Nicole Bouclier Plummer, as Assistant Director at Long Wharf Theatre, captures a moment when her daughter rides her bike on a ghost-light stage.
As we said: just a glimpse of the incredible parents who work in the theater. There are some theater communities who have successfully created welcoming environments for artist parents, and we will highlight even more as well as articulate the importance of their initiatives and where they can go coming up in Part 3. Stay tuned. [Catch up with Part 1 & Part 2 of the series on motherhood/parenthood in the theater here.]
Don’t forget to check out our interviews with some on-site mamas HERE in the series “What She Looks Like,” featuring working artists and their thoughts on the challenges and joys of colliding lives. Click on the gallery to get started!
THANK YOU to all the artists who submitted! If you would like to submit your own photo(s) as a theater-parent with kid on-site, email to AuditioningMom@gmail.com and include your name, occupation, location, and project + photo credit if applicable.