About the Play

MotherStruck! sets forth Staceyann Chin’s personal journey to motherhood as a single woman, lesbian and activist who does not have health insurance or a “serious, stable financial set up,” but wants to have a child. Told through Chin’s uniquely personal and poetic lens, this solo show explores how the process changed her life and how she makes peace with what she learns from this profound experience.  

"'MotherStruck!'...is a warm, political and often funny affirmation of endurance and personal happiness" - Chicago Tribune

"A heartwrenching and humorous interrogation into maternal inheritance and motherhood, 'MotherStruck!' swiftly moves from Chin's fleeing of her homeland to the birth of her daughter through an engaging and powerful narrative." - Windy City Times

"Chin is playful, coy, and magnetic onstage." - Chicago Reader

    • BuyTickets_240px (1)June 11 - July 17
    • Greenhouse Theater Center
2257 N Lincoln Ave | Chicago, IL 60614 | 773.404.7336

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I'm an immigrant mom who lives in New York City. And boy, do I love the pulse of this city! The off-the-chart energy makes me feel alive and whole and not crazy- this city and its large immigrant population validates my politics. The presence of so many cultures co-existing feeds the writer in me. The clashing colors of food and race and culture and art provide my pen with much-needed fodder. Zuri goes to a school that the focus is social justice. She gets to go to Coney Island. And cooking class. She eats foods from every culture, every day. She hears accents from all over the word, just walking up the block to her to school. She plus in the park with kids from all economic backgrounds. She goes to street fairs and visits China town and is exposed to street art. Her hair is colored red in the front. She wants to shave the back and pit designs in. She wears mismatched socks, and clothes people might consider outlandish costumes all day long in the streets of Brooklyn and it's not unusual for people tell her how much they love her crazy colors. Still, I struggle with the ever-present guilt about choosing to raise my daughter in this culture of the fast-paced-no-time-for-anything-but-the-most-necessary-tasks city. All my bio siblings are far away- either emotionally and geographically. Many of the chosen aunts and uncles are also in far away places. We do get a chance to see them when they come or when we visit them, but that's largely sporadic. We have a few aunts and uncles who live here in NYC, but so many of them are busy- traveling an hour to work, running around trying to make the ridiculous rent, doing laundry, finding work, dating, catching the subway, surviving the ever-present chaos, de-stressing from that chaos, making art, maintaining relationships that are under the stress of the transient NYC life, battling depression, and working as hard as they can not to drown. I know the importance of aunt and uncles. I survived my parents abandoning me because there was a plethora of both biological and chosen aunties and uncles who held up one brick in the foundation of me at some point between my accidental birth and my fleeing Jamaica. There are one or two people here who see Zuri regularly. And I'm so grateful for them. But I wish it were more often. Or that they lived closer- I wish they were up the block or around the corner or upstairs. I wish it didn't require so much effort to plan a visit or a meet-up. And I worry all the time about how the transience of the city will affect those relationships. I wonder when work will change in somebody's life and they will have to leave the city, or the borough, or the county, or the country- because that is standard for NYC. The year Zuri was conceived, six of my close friends left the city. The following year another three left. And that's not counting the new people we met and got close to for a short time before they had to leave. We've had to be ready to shift often- gentrification, relationships collapsing(apt too expensive solo, so folks leave the city after breakups) companies closing, or people get tired or fighting the city, or whatever. Ever year, I find myself wondering, why I'm still here? Deep in the middle of winter I'm looking online at housing in Atlanta or Florida or Seattle or Johannesburg with envy in my heart. By February I'm sure I'm leaving to live out my life in a house with a backyard that has more than one bedroom, and goddammit another freaking bathroom! I start telling people goodbye. I start purging. I start kicking the walls of my apartment and cursing the old plumbing and the sporadic heaters that come on only when they feel like it. Then spring comes and I fall deeply in love with this place again. But always, in the back of my mind, I worry about this community thing. I wonder if I'm short-changing my kid. And most days I have no idea what the answer is. So today's rumination is about community: aunties and uncles and playing hop scotch on the block and riding bikes on the street and access to art and people of color and racial diversity and a backyard and central air-conditioning and neighborhoods that stay the same for generations, and all the pros and cons that you gain or lose with any or all of that. What's your take/thoughts/experience on/with all this? ... See MoreSee Less

I'm an immigrant mom who lives in New York City. And boy, do I love the pulse of this city! The off-the-chart energy makes me feel alive and whole and not crazy- this city and its large immigrant popu...

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As much as we criticize social media platforms- today was a good day for me in the virtual. I woke up moody. And I felt my aloneness deeply and rolled out of bed carrying some sadness about being so singular in my motherhood, and the distance from my siblings, and the absence of my biological mother. But the day got a bit better after Zuri essentially told me in our last #LivingRoomProtest that we were gonna be okay. Then I posted her brilliant words online and the flood of love poured in from the interwebs- Then my cousin came over and took over some of my mothering duties while I sorted some work stuff. Then my kid came home and read bedtime stories about brave girls and fierce happenings in history to me before she collapsed exhausted and happy into my arms. She hugged me and told me- "Today was a good day, mama. I didn't cry today. And we didn't argue about breakfast or dinner or my socks!" Then she fell asleep. Thanks for sharing the ride, cyber people. Thanks for being real enough and open enough to cut all the way through to the other side of this tenuous connection - thanks for being so real that your encouragement reached through the banalities of the often cold, hard, vacuous, and consuming internet and made an aging, single woman of color feel seen. Thank you from the bottom of my scarred uterus, from the width of my widening hips, from the height of my wildly growing hair, thank you for the wave of wonder that is currently streaking through everything that makes me feel human and alive. ... See MoreSee Less

As much as we criticize social media platforms- today was a good day for me in the virtual. I woke up moody. And I felt my aloneness deeply and rolled out of bed carrying some sadness about being so s...

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LivingRoomprotest 39: I Don't Want To Be An Only Child! Zuri makes a really good argument for a sibling. If there at any single-parents of only-children out there who wanna offer up some advice- feel free to chime in... ... See MoreSee Less

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Seething. I watched the clip of O'Reilly making a derogatory comment about Maxine Walters' hair. He claims he couldn't hear anything she said because he was looking at her "James Brown wig." They are discussing on CNN. White man is saying he sees nothing wrong with the comment because pundits make fun of Trump's hair all the time. I want to reach through the TV and snatch him by his hair and scream, This is what white, male privilege looks like! That he can say he sees no difference between the two is both injurious and insulting. I'm a black woman. I have always known that a woman's hair is a point of tension in any public conversation as well as many private conversations. Our bodies, our hair, our jobs, how we make love or family or how we make our living continues to be ground zero in the struggle for gender equity. As a Black woman who has worn an Afro, a shaved head, a Mohawk, and a perm, I know firsthand the micro-aggressions women endure about hair. The tension about hair is always present. Always in debate. Even when we aren't saying anything about it. When I shaved my head, many people said. Nothing, but I noted the fury of compliments when it began to grow back. When it became long, and longer still after pregnancy, people loved it. I basked in the praise given to women with hair cascading down their back. When it became too much to care for alongside the care of an infant, I cut it, and endured the ongoing collective gasp. Years after the big chop, people tell me how much they miss my tresses. I have a shots cut now. And if I didn't fly off to the barber every two weeks, I have to answer questions about what's happening. Am I okay? What am I doing with it next. Black women always know that our hair is no light topic. To be fair, it's important to emphasize that this is not nearly limited to Black women. Any woman's hair is part of that politically gendered tension. Any woman's hair is always political. Look at the comments we endured about Hillary Clinton's hair. They were many and varied and petty and strange. Bernie Sanders walked around with the least coiffed hair in politics. And it never deterred people from taking him seriously. It was almost NEVER a part of the pundit exchanges on the news networks. All the women anchors on TV have processed, colored, and coiffed hair. The men show up on camera with grays, fly away hairs, bad hair cuts, etc. and it's not even brought up for conversation. There is no overstating this: if you identify as a woman, your hair is political. I'm watching teenage women- trans-women, gay women, cis-women, women across across the spectrum of womanness was, make decisions about the expression of that womanness, I'm watching them wear their compliance with, or rejection of, or reinterpretation of the traditional markers of the woman identity, and they invariably have to make a decision about what they do with the stuff that grows on their head. It's one of the first ways that children learn to mark gender. My own kid- five years old, living the life of a girl, is in full negotiation with hair and gender- what is expected of her, what she wants for herself, what she wishes to create- all day long she's making decisions about how valuable she is or isn't. And I'm watching people in the elevator, and on the street, at the grocery store, at my performances, I'm watching them make comments about her hair and I'm watching her respond. She largely gets more positive comments when we pulls her hair back. And I see how she lights up when people affirm her Afro. But I also see how many more times a day she gets that affirmation when her hair is in a bun, or a ponytail. In addition , all day long people tell her how pretty she is. I try to jump in often, on the heels of the pretty comment, to say how smart she is, or how highly she climbs or how fast she runs too. It's all I can think to do in response to the heavy-handed affirmation of her physical appearance. And 9 out of ten times these complements are in connection to her hairstyle. So yes. A woman's hair is political. What we do with it. What we don't do with it. Long or short. Natural or processed. Wherever you see mainstream images, or examples of womanly beauty, it's most times, women with hair that is it looks like white women's hair. So white women's hair is the standard for womanly beauty. And the more your hair looks like those long golden tresses- in storybooks, movies, ads, the more you are affirmed as beautiful. So yeah, the tension about hair is on fleek with black women. Permed or not. Locs or twists. Braids or Afro. Weave or no weave. Extensions. Or wigs. Always political. Hair is one of the most tried and true markers used to legitimate gender and racial value. Most people can, at a glance assess a woman, based on whether she is "appropriately gendered' by assessing her hair. Often they assess her a Black woman's racial value by assessing whether she "carries some sliver of Whiteness in her." Or whether her great grandmother Indian. Or if her perm is needing a touch up. I other words, is there some factor that mitigates the effects of having blackness inform the behavior of her hair. So no comment about a woman's hair, is without political weight- particularly a Black woman. And that weight sits even heavier when that comment compares her to a man. That is homophobia and transphobia and sexism and when it is directed at a black woman is is often racist. So yes, if you want to talk about gender and race and class and all those big isms that inform a larger conversation about oppression and discrimination, then sure, go ahead, ask me something stupid about my hair, go on, make some bigoted blasé statement about my appearance as it pertains to my already politically charged head of hair. ... See MoreSee Less

Seething. I watched the clip of O'Reilly making a derogatory comment about Maxine Walters' hair. He claims he couldn't hear anything she said because he was looking at her "James Brown wig." They are ...

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On Sunday, the kid had a fever and slept all day. I knew something was definitely off when she also slept through the night. On Monday I drag her to the doctor. I'm thinking it's strep throat. She actually had it twice in the last six weeks. Who knew you could get strep throat this week and then get it three weeks later. Apparently it happens. Kids get everything from each other, all the time, over and over again. Doc looks at her throat, swabs the throat, and takes her temperature, and says- no strep throat- actually looks like it could be the coxackie virus, but she's got no lesions on her hand or feet- only those red spots with the white bumps on her throat, so we have to wait and see. I was like- The cock-sack what? How serious is it? What is the treatment? No- she says, it's a common virus that toddlers get. But let's watch and see, okay? Okay. Don't panic- I'm telling myself, just get some information. I run right to the Google to do just that. The coxackie virus is commonly called the Hand, Foot and Mouth disease. Shit, does my kid have mad cow disease? No. This is just another mouth and foot disease. It is highly contagious and causes itching of hand foot and mouth. And young kids and the elderly are particularly susceptible to it. And, of course kids spread it more. Because of all the hand holding and the sharing and playing with food and kissing and oral fixation. There are Legions. Blisters. Pain. Sore mouth. Fever. Dehydration. IVs. Google pulls me in and I slip down the rabbit-hole of the internet. Tuesday the stuff in the throats looks more prominent, but the kid looks much better. No lethargy. We go outside. Frolic in the snow. Wednesday her hands and feet begin the itch fest. Red blotches appear. Around mouth on hands. Feet. Misery itch ratchets up. Red splotches are everywhere. I call the doctor who confirms- yes- It's the hand/foot/mouth/elbow/shin disease. Nights are worse. She wake up quite a lot scratching her hands, and feet and shins and elbows. I'm not sleeping well. She's barely eating. Woke up this morning with the struggle of parents who do not control their own schedule on the brain. As it is, I have some days to care for a sick kid. I didn't have to answer to a boss who frowns on such things. Yet, I find myself stretched for time and space to consider my own desires and needs. I often wonder if I am facing, head-on, the struggles most important to me. I feel I don't have enough hours in the day to do all the things that fall under my portfolio of responsibility. I wake up. Dive right into my life. Am in it all day. With very little space to think, much less create. I ache to write more. But I struggle to do that when the hours between drop-off and pick-up seem to be so short and taken up with the unending list of errands that constitute parent-life in the metropolis. I am responsible for every single thing my five year old needs. The ongoing after-play clean-up of my one-bedroom is never done. Every morning I make breakfast. Pack lunch. Make sure she's dressed. Make sure she eats. Brush her teeth. Do her hair (some people don't believe I do her hair😕.) Get her into her coat and hat and gloves and shoes. Other parents will testify how impossible that is- every morning, it's a struggle. Get her in the car. Drive her to school. Drop off. Take a breath in car. Listen to NPR. Or CNN. Or Pink. Park in a spot that doesn't become legal for an hour. Sit in the car and read the news while you wait for spot to become legal. If the news is too much to handle then respond to the largely ignored emails. Get back to apartment. Sign some relevant contracts. Return some urgent phone calls. Don't forget your friends' birthdays. Shit. I forgot to buy fish. Make a note to leave early for pick up so you can buy fish for dinner. Phone rings. It's a phone-meeting I had forgotten about. Meeting goes on for an hour longer than planned. No time to buy fish. No worries. I have some leftovers in the fridge. Get there three minutes late to get kid from school. I'm thankful the teachers don't notice I'm barely on time. Say hear felt thank you to teachers for holding it down for the day. Wipe the kid's nose. Zip up her coat. Walk to car with kid begging to go to park. No time for park today. Make conversation on the drive home. What happened at school today, honey? Nothing. Only Dance. Oh, and I was the beverage person. Very cool, I say. And Maddie gave me this heart. Cool. Is that glitter on it? Yes. And Amelia said I was her best friend. How cool is that? Now I have three best friends, mama. And I really like praying. I didn't say anything because I didn't want to say the wrong thing. But Jesus! Are they teaching my kid to pray to Jesus at that school? I hope not. Because I'm not even sure how I feel about praying. Or Jesus. Much less both of them together. Okay, okay, honey. That's all very, very cool that you have such great friends. Okay. So can you tell me how you know about praying, honey? Mama, Dr. Martin Luther king prayed when he was fighting for his rights! Oh yes. That is so right, honey? That's so cool that he did that, right? Mama, It's not 'cool.' It's amazing. Stop saying 'cool' for things that are important. Fighting for rights is very important. So you can't say- cool- for that, ok? Ok, sorry. I won't say cool. I will try to say amazing. It's pretty amazing that Dr. King fought for human rights. But do you know any other gods that people pray to? Teenager sigh escapes the five year old's lungs. Mama, She says, clearly annoyed, I don't want to talk about this. You're always asking me to see if I know things. Yes. I know that you can pray to other gods like Oshun and stuff. I know that so you didn't have to ask me to see if I know. That's pass aggressive. You mean passive aggressive, I correct. Yes. That's what I said. Ok, I say. Sigh. Get home. Get on amazon. Even though I'm boycotting amazon because of Ivanka Trump, but I don't have time to go to to the mall all the time. Buy new socks. Replace lunchbox. Open snail mail. Call the bank. Bank is now closed. Call accountant guy about filing taxes. Make that play date with a friend I haven't seen in ages who also has a kid. Make a note to spring clean. Wipe the kid's bum after she poops. Clean out the toy box. Attempt to recycle. Cook dinner. Insist she eats. Let her watch TV while you make a few phone calls. Bathe the kid. Argue about teeth brushing. Argue about bedtime. Read a story. Snuggle with her on couch because she falls asleep faster there than in her bed. (Don't judge me!) Carry the sleeping her into bed. Clean up while I watch Rachel Maddow. Read the day's crazy news. Try not to think about the fact that I wrote nothing, all day. For yet another day. Ignore the writer in you that feels like a failure. Fall asleep. Wake up. Do it all again. And that's for the days I'm not having a reading or getting on a plane or working on a new play. Did I mention I'm also a professor? Anyone else recognize this life? ... See MoreSee Less

On Sunday, the kid had a fever and slept all day. I knew something was definitely off when she also slept through the night. On Monday I drag her to the doctor. I'm thinking it's strep throat. She act...

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Creative Team
Director: Cynthia Nixon Associate Director: Ron Russell Assistant Director: Shariffa Ali Production Stage Manager: Renee Alexander Technical Director/Production Manager: Nate Terracio Set Design: Kristen Robinson Lighting Design: Bradley King & Dante Olivia Smith Sound Design: Elisheba Ittoop Costume Design: Akua Murray Adoboe Press Requests: Lily Robinson & Patrick Lazour, O&M Co.