THE WOMANLY ART OF BREAST-TRYING

Amanda L. Andrei | The Womanly Art of Breast-Trying | Raising Mothers

CHARACTERS (IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE)

A WOMAN / MAMA

NURSE

BOSS

PSYCHIATRIST

CHORUS

PARTNER

YOU

 

SETTING

There.

TIME

Always.

 

This is a forum theater play. Language and stage directions are flexible. Perform, then do it again, this time asking the audience to intervene. Do not make it easy for them (such is life). Repeat as necessary.

Suggested game: Ask performers to re-perform with extreme emotion, e.g., extreme happiness.

SCENE I

A woman holds her newborn to her breast.

Nothing.

The other breast.

Nothing.

Latching, what is that?

Nurse enters, checks vitals.

NURSE

How we doin’?

MAMA

It’s not working.

NURSE

Well dear, you gotta keep trying.

MAMA

Like this?

NURSE

Sure.

The nurse ties a string to the mother and   leaves.

The mother tries.

Milk, is it coming?

 

SCENE II

 

A woman sits across from her boss with her newborn at her breast.

 

MAMA

Is there any way?

BOSS

12 weeks is what we give, unpaid.

MAMA

But I’ve had complications.

BOSS

Did you file with HR?

The newborn starts wailing.

 

MAMA

Yes, they told me to talk to the doctor.

BOSS

Did you talk to the doctor?

MAMA

Yes, they told me to talk to HR.

BOSS

And you filed the papers.

MAMA

Is there a way to get paid for the time?

BOSS

Talk to a professional. You can get a recommendation through our employee hot line.

The boss ties a string to the mother and leaves.

The mother tries.

 

SCENE III

A woman sits across a psychiatrist with her newborn.

Books and pill bottles everywhere.

PSYCHIATRIST

So, why are you here today?

MAMA

The unfulfillment of body expectations for feeding my newborn.

PSYCHIATRIST

(laughs)

How old are you again?

(does not wait for an answer)

Let’s talk about your mother-in-law.

MAMA

I don’t have enough breast tissue to make milk.

The newborn stops wailing.

PSYCHIATRIST

Is she Jewish, Italian, or Greek?

MAMA

I don’t have enough—

PSYCHIATRIST

You look so exotic. You said you were mixed?

MAMA

Can I have a note for my company? For HR?

PSYCHIATRIST

Come back next week, I’ll give you an evaluation then.

The psychiatrist ties a string to the mother and leaves.

The mother tries.

Books? Pills?

 

SCENE IV

A woman holds her newborn to her breast while she sits at her laptop, looking through forums for advice.

 

CHORUS

(one by one, then overlapping and repeating and tying strings to her)

 

My baby won’t take a bottle You should try fenugreek Drink more water My two-year-old pulls my hair when I pump How do I find a donor 64 milliliters Where do I get domperidone You have to pump every two hours An overabundance of milk? I have to squeeze the heck out of my breasts You need a hospital grade pump Medela is good but I prefer Find a lactation consultant I recommend a pumping brassiere You have to get your hormones tested My son won’t empty me properly She’s tried syringe feeding I wanted to try saw palmetto What about royal jelly Breasts have always been underdeveloped Hypoplasia Is this engorgement

MAMA

STOP!

(slams computer shut)

Chorus stops.

(holds her baby and weeps)

Mama’s partner comes home.

 

PARTNER

Baby?

MAMA

I can’t do it. I can’t do it. I can’t do it.

PARTNER

(takes baby)

It’s gonna be okay. It’s gonna be okay. It’s gonna be okay.

The baby coos.

Mama holds it.

Holds it.

Holds it.

 

THE END

Now, let the forum begin.


Amanda L. Andrei is an award-winning playwright and storyteller living in the DC metro area. Her plays have been read and produced in DC, Virginia, Maryland, and New York. She is inspired by diaspora, tragic comedy, and collaborative art games.

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