The Play’s the Thing–Putting Parents Center Stage

Some of us were fortunate enough to have parents who thought we were the center of the universe.

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Others, not so much. My friend was one of those who had parents who did not. Four decades ago, I witnessed the minor cruelties that parents can inflict first hand. My friend, always believing herself at fault, tried unsuccessfully to please them never realizing where the problem lay.

She supported herself and her three beautiful sons by teaching acting to talented adults and children. Recently, to provide a vehicle for one of her acting groups, she wrote a play and my husband and I took ship for New Jersey as refugees from Manhattan to see it.

new yorker #66 bus(Source:

When I asked him what he thought it was like for our refugee ancestors to come to America, he remarked that he thought it must have been like going to Montclair.

The play, performed by gifted amateurs, told the whole story. There was her mother, in all her frailty, revealed publicly for the first time, through my friend’s creative work. I was startled to view such a frank portrait of the person who had convinced her daughter that she could never measure up but Fellini said “all art is autobiographical,” and how right he was.

comedy and tragedyWhen finally, the children in the play wake up to the real character of their mother, I understood why we had made this trip to New Jersey—to bear witness, once again. And to understand that if we succeed in conveying our love to our children, we may be forgiven many things.


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