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THEATER REVIEW Motherstruck!
by M. Shelly Conner
2016-06-19

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Playwright: Staceyann Chin. At: Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. Tickets: 773-404-7336. GreenhouseTheater.org; $32-$48. Runs through: July 17

It's amazing how soft-spoken and diminutive Staceyann Chin is off stage.

The same woman had just spent a considerable amount of time on her back re-enacting the various stages of her insemination and pregnancy for her one-woman show Motherstruck!—so much more than an ode to lesbian motherhood. Motherstruck!—embodying what academics call intersectionality—illustrates Chin's experiences as a mixed race, Jamaican-born, Black lesbian. 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.

My first experience with Motherstruck! was at the now discontinued Michigan Women's Music Festival ( Michfest ). Chin performed a few of the selections as individual essays. However, as a complete off-book show, the essays that compose Motherstruck! seamlessly create an autobiography that drives you to tears that are immediately wiped away by laughter. Her unwavering desire to conceive, troubled pregnancy and painfully long childbirth echo the dreams and fears of those invested in parenthood—and, more specifically, those who simultaneously navigate issues of race, poverty and citizenship.

Perhaps Staceyann Chin isn't quiet at all, but rather seems so by comparison to her onstage persona, who fearlessly shares/wields her story of trauma and triumph. In any case, on or off stage, Chin's fiery eyes intensely focus on her audience. She delivers the same level of attention while in brief post-show conversation as she does when locking on to individual audience members during a performance. Red, curly Afrohawk and a quick smile are at the ready, punctuated by the periodic scanning of the space for the muse of Motherstruck!—her daughter Zuri. With a maternal GPS lock on Zuri, Chin draws you in.


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