How many of us can actually say we know a playwright? In a world full of ebooks and online magazines, we often don’t get to experience the actual real-life interaction that results because of a play. Sure, you see your kid’s school rendition of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” (and it is pretty amazing), but it’s not the same as seeing a professionally produced play.
This is precisely why I was so excited to interview Jewish mom and writer Rachel Mann on her new play “Class Mother,” which opens March 4-6 at the Venus/Adonis Theater Festival at the Hudson Guild Theater in NYC. The play is something many moms can relate to–it’s about what happens when your kid sees explicit and inappropriate content during a playdate, and what happens as a result.
Below, Mann talks about why she wrote “Class Mother,” her life as a mom of three, and what her biggest pet pet peeve is:
1. Favorite Yiddish word:
Shpilkes (a state of impatience, having pins and needles)
2. What inspired you to write “Class Mother?” Was it inspired by your own life? If so, how?
A friend told me that during a playdate, another 9-year-old girl had shown her daughter illicit photos on an iPad. This mom was pissed off at the girl, and even more so at the girl’s parents. And it made me think: Most of us are truly just guessing when it comes to parenting decisions. Parental controls? Feh, too complicated. In this play, I wanted to explore what happens when we have to hash these things out—those tough decisions about who we are, and who we want our kids to be—with people who don’t share our own ideas or values. Throw in class differences and a mom blogger on a mission, and I felt like I had a story with enough drama for the stage.
3. If you could be anyone or anything, just for one day, what would you be?
An Olympic downhill skier. I would love to know what it feels like to move that fast, and to have zero fear of death.
4. What was your favorite children’s book or young adult novel growing up?
“Anne of Green Gables.” That feisty gingi (red-head). I seem to remember reading a piece somewhere about women who count Gilbert Blythe as their first crush. Um, yes.
5. What TV show have you binge watched?
Most recently, “Master of None.” I heart Aziz.
6. Biggest pet peeve:
Preschool artwork. I’ve actually come up with a solution to the piles of papers with adorable scribbles that are protruding from every closet in my apartment: All preschool artwork should henceforth be created on Magna Doodles. It’s about process, not product, right?
7. If you were a Jewish holiday, which one would you be?
Purim. There’s a spiel, there’s whiskey, and there’s lax parental supervision all around.
8. Childhood goal:
To write for Rolling Stone. Basically, I wanted to be the Cameron Crowe character in “Almost Famous.” I’m so glad that movie exists so I can see what I missed.
9. What’s your least favorite children’s movie?
I have a low tolerance for kids’ movies; if one is playing, that means I can do something else. I make exceptions for movies from my own childhood—which my kids have given me reason to revisit. Cue up the time I decided my kids were ready to see one of my old faves, “Adventures in Babysitting,” when they were about 8 and 9 years old. Three plus years later, they still talk about that crazy movie Mom showed them. (At least they don’t quote it: “Don’t fuck with the babysitter.”) Oops.
10. What’s the last thing you do at night?
It would be bad to say I scroll through Facebook on my phone in bed, right? So I’ll tell you that I’m currently reading “The Crucible.” I am.