‘Night Mother was written by American playwright Marsha Norman in 1981 and premiered at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The play transferred to Broadway in 1983, where it ran for almost a year and received four Tony nominations. Also in 1983 Norman won the Pulitzer Prize in Theater for the play. The play was a radical sensation when it premiered in the 80s, placing two female characters at the forefront of a situation that is life-or-death as well as traditionally domestic. It prompted a conversation not only about the bleakness of life in contemporary American but also the silent struggles women face all over the world. The play has clearly stood the test of time, receiving a revival on Broadway in 2004. We believe the show remains relevant in 2019 Nepal, serving as a reminder that there is strength in vulnerability and that it is never too late to have a difficult conversation.
Content warning: Extensive discussion about suicide and death; abelist language discussing illness and mental health
The discussion in the play is deeply moving and heavy as we witness the conversation between the daughter and the mother. If you feel the need to leave or step out at any point please take care of that need. It’s okay.
While preparing myself to make this play I struggled within myself, because of the sensitivity of the issue. Our audience should, and ultimately must, receive ‘Night Mother from their own point of view. In the play while the daughter decides to kill herself, the mother tries to convince her to stay alive. For me, both viewpoints are to be taken seriously. The predominant theme of the play is the juxtaposition of two attitudes towards existence.
It may provoke the audience in either way but for me the important question is: why one chooses to end their life? I understand that it is not always an individualistic decision. It is not just a psychological problem of an individual, but a sociological one too. All of us are very much a part of it, how one is judged, excluded, misunderstood, suppressed and isolated by society. We are afraid to acknowledge our part in it, often brushing ‘difficult’ conversations under the carpet. If a person feels a lack of belonging in the world, how are we as a society making it better for them? A person is born a blank sheet of paper and family, society, world paints a picture on it. Some people take their lives because they have no choice, while for some it is the only way they can take control over their lives. I hope this play helps the audience to examine the complex layers of one’s choice to end their life, and to not judge or belittle anyone living or dead.
Working on this play has motivated me to want to be around people, and to be approachable as well as reach out if I need to.