fiction & plays: plays

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Nancy Chapple Women Without Children

If you’re a woman of 45, 50, 55 or older and you don’t have any children – how do you feel about it? Sad? Relieved? Guilty? A bit of everything? That’s how I felt.
I would hear women speaking proudly of their children as their life’s work. I met mothers who claimed to envy me for my childlessness: I had the time and energy to pursue my creative passions, they sighed. I sensed there were some sad stories: men who refused to become fathers, abortions, medical difficulties, infertility, never meeting the right man … But I also sensed that it wasn’t always considered tragic – and that those women who felt completely fine with never becoming a mother would appreciate it if their version also got heard.
I went through my address book, asked friends and friends of friends whether I could interview them. I wanted to hear stories, impressions, individual women’s voices. I wanted to ask: Did you always assume you’d have children when you were young? What advantages have you had professionally because you haven’t had any? How do people react when they hear you’re childless – do you ever feel left out? If you could design your life all over again, would you be a mother?
The form of Women Without Children grew out of that. Every word in the piece was said to me (or by me) in an interview held in either English or German. I then asked nine friends – and friends of friends – to help me record the mosaic of women’s voices.

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