In the mid-1990s, six actor friends working with the Arts Club Theatre Company all had children around the same time and encountered the surprises many first-time mothers do.
“So we got together to moan and bitch about it and we eventually wrote a show,” Robin Nichol said.
That show was Mom’s the Word and Nichol is one of its six original creators and actors. It hit the stage in 1995 at the Arts Club Theatre in Vancouver and ran for nine months before taking off across the country. It even went international and was translated into other languages.
“We expected it would just be of interest to other mothers of babies, but in fact it had a wider audience and it went crazy,” Nichol said.
In 2005, the group returned to do it all again. Mom’s the Word 2: Unhinged was the follow-up and a “remixed” version that combined the first two plays also ran for a time.
And then in 2017, Mom’s the Word: Nest 1/2 Empty became the third and latest instalment of the play.
“It’s about the kids leaving home — or not leaving home, or they should leave home — one of those things,” Nichol said.
Nichol and her fellow castmates all wrote their own parts for each of the plays, though Nichol didn’t always play herself — she had a day job to keep up with as a professor and theatre co-ordinator at Thompson Rivers University.
Throughout all of its iterations, the show has held true one theme in particular: you never stop being a mother. Whether that means being awake at all hours to see to a crying infant or being there during tough times for adult children, Nichol said the play draws on a lot of things that are universal and a lot of things that are very specific.
“We’re all writing in the first person about our own lives and just telling the truth,” she said.
“Obviously on the one hand, I’d say, ‘That’s exactly me up there.’ On the other hand, I do choose how I present myself — and I’m not even entirely conscious of what those choices are,” she said.
Nichol said her real-life children are sometimes the butt of the joke on stage, but the play is about a lot more than familial teasing, and it ventures into the mistakes they have made as mothers and the things they do that simply aren’t helping.
“It’s about realizing how we [the cast] have reacted to this phenomenon and looking at it and going, ‘Oh, that was dumb.’”
The play is now being staged in Kamloops as a presentation by Western Canada Theatre and is playing at the Coast Kamloops Hotel Theatre, 1250 Rogers Way, beginning on Thursday. It runs until April 6.
The play stars Jill Daum, Alison Kelly, Nichol, Barbara Pollard and Deborah Williams.
This weekend, catch it on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. or as a matinee on Saturday at 2 p.m. A complete performance schedule and ticket information can be found online at wctlive.ca/momstheword.htm.