OU-C Theater Program Presents “‘Night Mother”

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The Ohio University-Chillicothe theater program has established a legacy of offering interesting, thought-provoking performances that serve as the basis for conversations long after the curtain has dropped, and its upcoming production is no exception.

The campus’ theater group will present the Pulitzer Prize-winning play ‘Night Mother at 8 p.m. on April 13 and April 14 in the Bennett Hall auditorium.

The play by Marsha Norman, which won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, is framed by the context of a conversation between a distraught mother, Thelma, and her daughter, Jessie, who dispassionately explains her plans to end her life before she sees another dawn. Jessie explains her reasoning, looking back at what she considers to be her unfulfilling life while her mother (Mama) desperately tries to circumvent her daughter’s intentions.
"This is an instance when the play found us, rather than the other way around," said Ken Breidenbaugh, who is directing the play. "Each academic quarter, we select a play based on the actors, their talents and interests. This is a play that has substance and is most meaningful. It has something important to say."

It is a special challenge for college-age students to tackle such a difficult, foreboding topic.

"Fortunately, I do not have much experience with this topic, so I have to draw from the qualities she has that relate to me," said OU-C student Jenna Hobbs of Waverly, Ohio, who plays the role of Jessie. "While I am a ‘people’ person, Jessie has been alone all of her life. But I love playing characters who are different from me. Playing the role of Jessie helps me to relate to others and makes me more open-minded."

"This is a very disturbing play," Breidenbaugh added. "It partly involves developing an understanding of how people communicate and also how people sometimes feel that no one understands. From a theatrical standpoint, this is very powerful stuff."

"It is definitely challenging, but I enjoy challenges when it comes to acting, and this play pushed the limit," Hobbs said.

This is the first actual acting performance for Jennifer Adams, a Chillicothe High School graduate who plays the role of Thelma, or "Mama."

"I am treading in deep water and it gets a little deeper every day," she said. "Much of the preparation for this play involves getting into the character and the understanding that Thelma has a daughter out on a ledge and she is trying to pull her back without pushing her farther away. It is difficult to step out of character after rehearsal and not think about the play."

Tickets for ‘Night Mother are available at the OU-C Box Office on the evenings of performances. Tickets are $10 for adults, $9 for senior citizens and free for OU-C students. Group rates of $8 per ticket are also available.