Four women talk about the joys and sorrows of motherhood in the musical “Mothers”

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Four women vent and ironize about the joys and difficulties of motherhood in the show “Mães”, the first musical directed by Ricardo Neves-Neves, which opens on Thursday at Teatro Villaret in Lisbon.

Ana Cloe, Gabriela Barros, Raquel Tillo and Tânia Alves are the main characters in this musical by American author Sue Fabisch, about four friends who exchange confidences and advice about what it’s like to be a mother, during a reception party for one of them’s baby, who is about to be born.

The invitation to stage this musical comedy came from producer Sandra Faria, of Força de Produção, and Ricardo Neves-Neves accepted because he found “the text very funny in its original form and with a great sense of humor, a humor that is current, vibrant, ironic, silly, absurd,” as he told Lusa.

According to Neves-Neves, the text proposes “a way for women to look at themselves, their lives, motherhood and their own bodies in a fun and light-hearted way”.

Despite the comedy tone, the text, adapted by Henrique Dias and Miguel Viterbo, puts the viewer “in a position of reflection on certain imbalances that still exist, a certain weight of society that can be placed on their [women’s] shoulders, even if in the scene this is treated in an amusing way”.

On stage, the four actresses talk, criticize, recall with affection or fury the various stages of the motherhood process, pregnancy, childbirth, body transformations, sexuality, the pressure to be “the perfect mother” or the connection to the baby’s first months, when “the first word is a Jobim poem”.

“There are four women, somewhat different, who together represent this female empowerment,” actress Gabriela Barros explained to Lusa at the end of one of the rehearsals.

For Gabriela Barros, who in preparing for the role recalled her own recent experience of motherhood, this musical theater play “is of interest to women who are not mothers, who are thinking of becoming one, who don’t want to be one and who can probably identify with some of the fears”.

Ricardo Neves-Neves believes that the play “doesn’t place motherhood in a merely poetic place, nor in a place of suffering, of giving in, of sacrifice; it places motherhood in a very luminous area with an awareness of the difficulties it brings”.

“After the news we received recently [the parliamentary elections] and with Parliament being represented less and less by female MPs, it seems to me an important sensitivity to put on stage, but at the same time there is a certain shamelessness and I find that positive and amusing. (…) At a time when we are all a little gray in the soul I think this type of show can bring some light and lightness to people’s day,” he said.

When asked about being a man directing a play about motherhood, Ricardo Neves-Neves said that during the rehearsal process with the actresses they spoke openly “about all the tickles and itches” that might arise: “I had their help and I felt at ease dealing with a subject that doesn’t directly interest me”.

“Mothers”, which will be on stage at Teatro Villaret for an indefinite period, features live music, with musical direction by Artur Guimarães.

Ricardo Neves-Neves, director and artistic director of Teatro do Eléctrico, premieres this musical for Força de Produção this week, at a time when he is preparing a new play for December, at a venue to be announced.

Regarding the profusion of shows he has premiered over the last few months, namely “Maria da Fonte”, “The Book of Pantagruel”, “Night of Kings” and “Definitely the Bahamas”, Ricardo Neves-Neves said that he is still recovering from the effects of the covid-19 pandemic, which has delayed his stage performances.

“In the space of a year and a half we’ve done the work for three, but it will calm down,” he said.

Hervé Hubert
Hervé Hubert
Hervé Hubert is a 55-year-old writer and journalist based in Porto, Portugal. Born in France, he brings a unique blend of French and Portuguese perspectives to his work. Education Hervé studied Journalism and Literature at the University of Lyon in France. After completing his studies, he gained valuable experience working with various French media outlets (Portugal France also). Career He worked for several years as a journalist in France before making the move to Portugal. In Porto, he joined the Portugal Pulse team as a staff writer. Skills Hervé specializes in storytelling, investigative journalism, and cultural commentary. He has a flair for capturing complex issues in a relatable way. Personal Life He currently resides in Porto and enjoys the city's rich culture, from Fado music to Francesinha cuisine. Hervé continues to maintain strong ties to his French heritage, often traveling back to France for family visits and cultural exploration. With his unique background and diverse skill set, Hervé Hubert adds a layered, multicultural lens to every story he covers.

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