Pregnancy can be a laughing matter, says playwright and actor Diane Flacks, left, who is exposing the lighter side of entering motherhood in her one-woman show, Bear With Me.
The title of the show is apt: mood swings and confusion afflict the newly pregnant woman, Flacks tells Canadian Jewish News on a break from rehearsals.
“The hormones make you crazy,” she says. “I once loaded a dishwasher full of cream of wheat, instead of powder. I began to question who I was when I was pregnant.”
The 42-year-old Cabbagetown resident, who is the mother of Eli, 6, and Jonathan, 2, began writing a book about pregnancy’s dramatic effects several years ago and published the book in 2005 with McClelland & Stewart. The book sparked a live, solo performance that toured Toronto, Ottawa and London, Ont. Evidently, Flacks wasn’t the only woman who was looking to laugh as she watched her belly swell.
“Women need to talk about the impact of pregnancy on their lives,” she says.
She discovered that other women also managed to find humour when they felt the worst. In fact, one of the oldest expectant women she knew had a smile on her face during pregnancy.
Flacks relates the story of Sarah, Abraham’s wife, who laughed when she learned she was going to bear a child. “When you are hit with something uncontrollable like this, sometimes all you can do is laugh,” Flacks says.
Bear With Me will highlight some of the more poignant stories from Flacks’ pregnancy. Especially relevant to a certain audience is the bit on the “Jewish mother gene,” she says.
“This is a serious genetic disorder passed on from a mother to a daughter,” she explains. “It turns perfectly laid-back people into anxious mothers. When I had kids, the ‘Jewish mother gene’ kicked in. I looked at my child and wondered where that rash came from. I was worried if he was too warm, too cold. This all comes from the Jewish school of God-forbid-something-should-happen-to-you way of thinking.”
Flacks’ motherhood story is also spiced with a unique detail: she is queer, and her children were conceived thanks to a male donor. “I’m certainly up front about it in the play,” Flacks says.
She relishes staging Bear With Me because it challenged her as a playwright. She has also collaborated on theatre shows with Richard Greenblatt and TV shows such as Kids in the Hall.
“This is a clear way to get my point of view across to an audience,” she says.
But is that message somewhat negative, considering all the problems Flacks faced during her pregnancy?
Not at all, she counters. “Once I stopped puking, it really was quite magnificent.”
Bear With Me (Nightwood Theatre) runs Jan. 7 to 24 at Berkeley Street Theatre, 26 Berkeley St. For tickets, call 416-368-3110.