Directing “The Savannah Disputation” at Company Theatre, 30 Accord Park Drive, Norwell
Oct. 5-21. Tickets: All but the Sunday seats are $24; Sunday seats, $22. Call 781-871-2787, boxoffice@company
Q. I know “The Savannah Disputation” is your next project, but for the uninformed, let’s backtrack to the “MOMologues” trilogy first, since it’s what you’re best known for. I’m a husband, so I confess I haven’t seen them. But from what my wife’s friends say, I should see them. What are they about and how did you come up with them?
A. I started writing a comedy about motherhood when my kids were very little, preschool age. I realized I’d love more material for the play. So I found two friends going through the same thing — both very funny moms. And we wrote together. The show was a big hit in Boston. But the point was that we realized moms desperately needed a laugh. It’s very intense being a mom and sometimes lonely. . . . Based on audience reactions we knew we’d struck a nerve.
Q. OK, and what led to the second and third installations in the series?
A. Lots of moms made it a point ... to share their experiences with us after performances. So we wrote a second one, “MOMologues2: Off to School,” about the elementary school years. And after that one we had moms telling us, “Wait till the teen years.” So we wrapped it up in a trilogy, or as we like to call it, a trimester, with “MOMologues3: The Final Push,” about that final push of the kids out the door, off to college, etc. Being a mom really does mimic pregnancy, exactly. In your first trimester you’re glowing. By the last, you can’t wait to push the baby out.
Q. Were these plays about your personal experiences with your children, and if so how did your kids take being turned into characters or fodder?
A. Yes, we write about our own children specifically, and they are the characters in the play. . . .
We don’t name the kids in the play, but that’s to make it universal so the audience feels like it’s about their kids. And our kids all have a sense of humor about it. My oldest daughter finally saw it when she was 17, and she thought it was funny.
Q. Why not till 17?
A. Well that’s part of the joke with the adults. The plays feature intimate mom conversations that wouldn’t be appropriate for very young kids. Think of every frustrated mom venting and think of some of the language they might use when the kids aren’t around to hear it!
Q. How far and wide did the
A. The original one ran in 14 states and Canada and Brazil and Amsterdam and Netherlands and Belgium.
‘I have been a director since college . . . I’ve always loved directing. . . . I guess how I took my detour was I was a director, but I had a little kid.’
Q. So what are the roots “The Savannah Disputation” has returned you to?
A. I have been a director since college . . . but I’ve always loved directing and the idea of directing, helping to bring a story to life. I guess how I took my detour was I was a director, but I had a little kid. But I love it. I directed “Steel Magnolias” in 2002 and 2007, both at Company Theatre. I’ve been really lucky to have a good relationship with that theater.
Q. What’s the play about?
A. It’s a character-driven comedy about class and religion and about differences in faith.
Q. Greater Boston seems to be a pretty religious place, in terms of people’s allegiance to formal religious institutions. Are you at all worried about offending people with the play?
A. Roman Catholicism is such a predominant religion here. But this area is also ground central of sarcasm and funniness. And I’ve found people here — even people of faith — really respond well to humor and irony and sarcasm. The writing is so beautifully done and so warmly conceived I think people will get a big kick out of it and maybe a little introspection.
Q. Back to “MOMologues” for a moment. Is there another chapter down the pike, say after the kids are really old?
A. Who knows? Maybe we’ll do the “GrandMOMologues.”
JAMES H. BURNETT III
Interview was condensed and edited. James Burnett can be reached at James.Burnett@
globe.com. Follow James Burnett on Twitter @JamesBurnett.