By Katie Tandy with Lauren Rosenfield
Directed by Lauren Rosenfield
April 16 & 17, 2022 at BAMPFA
April 22-23, 2022 at MonkeyBrains
It’s 2080. Human reproduction is now under State control In an effort to manage population and conserve dwindling resources in a global movement known as Mothers All. Show Photos | Cast & Crew Photos | Program PDF
Hailed as “the great democratizer,” maternal deaths, teenage pregnancies, and abortion numbers plummet. Yet, with this leap of scientific advancement comes unforeseen consequences.
Following in the speculative fiction footsteps of Octavia Butler and Ursula Leguin, Mothers All asks complicated questions about the nature of motherhood, gender, bodily autonomy, and the ethics surrounding artificial reproductive technology.
The science is real — and it’s here — but what should we do with it?
Playing Saturday, April 16th at 7 p.m. and Sunday, April 17th at 3 p.m. at the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA)
Free with admission to the museum - more info at the BAMPFA website: https://bampfa.org/event/full-mothers-all
Seating is limited and advance tickets are recommended. Tickets are available at the door or through BAMPFA (https://bampfa.org/visit/plan-your-visit)
Playing Friday, April 22nd and Saturday, April 23rd at 8 p.m. at the historic brick MonkeyBrains warehouse in Oakland, 1611 17th St, Oakland, CA 94607. Doors open at 7:15 p.m. for light refreshements and dancing. Tickets $20 (limited number of pay-what-you-will tickets available) at the door or via our www.aeofberkeley.org or via tickettailor https://www.tickettailor.com/events/actorsensemble/665531/
The MonkeyBrains warehouse is in West Oakland. It is housed in a historic brick railroad maintenance facility now the central warehouse of one of the most sophisticated commercial Internet Service Providers. A limited number of "pay-what-you-can" tickets are available for the two productions at MonkeyBrains,
Cast & Crew
Written by Katie Tandy with Lauren Rosenfield
Directed by Lauren Rosenfield
Stage Management by Natasha Morrondoz
Costumes by Jenny Wang with assitance from Zanib Naeem
Lighting Design by Nathan Bogner
Projections by Luke Stenzhorn
Incidental Music by: Andrew MacIver
Production coordination Jerome Solberg
Dr. Lawrence - Miyoko Sakatani
Isabel / Alex - Muffy Koster
Sasha - Max Seijas
Preacher Finley - Billie J. Simmons
Clementine - Sarah Lee
Dr. Ponlius - Glenn Havlan
Mrs. Ponlius - Susannah Wood
Victoria/ Ann - Misha Carlson
Laila Brown - Rachael Richman
About the Playwright, Cast, and Crew
Katie Tandy (Playwright) Katie is an editor, journalist, and rising playwright. She is the former co-founding editor of three online magazines centering social justice, and currently runs a civil rights magazine for the Oakland non-profit Public Rights Project.
Her original rock musical adaptation of Ovid’s Pygmalion—renamed Galatea— was produced with Musical Cafe in Berkeley and CounterPulse in San Francisco. She is the recipient of the Turkeyland Cove Foundation and Hambidge writing residencies, and a 2021 finalist with Blackacre. When she’s not scrawling, she’s singing with the Oakland rock band The Shattucks.
Susannah Wood (Samantha Ponlius) Susannah is incredibly happy to explore gender issues with AE’s great cast, for her first in-person show after the pandemic. Just before lockdown, she enjoyed performing in AE’s Skin of Our Teeth and Anton Well’s production of NAME. When not working, she likes to play board games, walk in the woods, and make soup with a lot of garlic & ginger.
Luke Stenzhorn (Visual Design) Luke has spent the past two decades designing a bit of everything. After spending his intitial years in advertising in London, he moved on to pursue fashion, setting up the menswear label Percival. Now Luke mostly consults for other brands who need brand and design guidance. Helping with design and visuals for Mothers All has been a design purest’s dream and watching Katie and Lauren at work has been a real inspiration.
Billie J. Simmons (Pastor Finley) Billie is a native of Oakland, California. She received her B.A. in Dramatics in Speech from Fisk University, Nashville, TN. She has spent the past forty years serving the community as a “Preacher’s Wife” and all that entails. After forty years away from the stage, Billie returns in honor of her late father—Tobie G. Levingston—the Founder and President of the East Bay Dragons motorcycle club founded in 1959. I am the Daughter of a Dragon.
Rachael Richman (Laila Brown) Rachael is an actor, writer, and theater-maker. Some credits include: The Karamazovs (New Ohio Theatre and upcoming film), Portrait of an Angel, a Lion, a Monster (Central Stage CA, TheatreLab NYC), and Man of La Mancha (Custom Made Theatre), for which she received a Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award. She co-created immersive mixed-reality adventure Private(i) at Brooklyn Navy Yard, and co-devised Art Monastery Project’s Prime, which toured internationally. Excited to join Mothers All!
Lauren Rosenfield (Director) Lauren is a director and dramaturg. Prior to Mothers All she directed, dramaturged, and produced the original rock musical Galatea alongside Katie at CounterPulse in San Francisco. Previously, she has collaborated with BrickaBrack Theatre Company, serving as assistant director and dramaturg. She served as assistant dramaturg at Cutting Ball Theatre, literary assistant at Playwright’s Foundation, and editorial assistant at American Theatre magazine. Finally, Lauren has worked internationally, directing a cross-cultural production of Sam Shephard’s Tongues in Madrid and collaborating with performance theorist group, Walking Theory, on their project Escenas Discursivas. When not in the theatre, she works as a product manager for The New York Times.
Miyoko Sakatani (Dr. Li Lawrence) Miyoko is thrilled to be working with AEB in this extraordinary play by Katie Tandy and Lauren Rosenfield. As a nurse and educator in her past life, Miyoko is excited to play a research scientist. She has performed on many Bay Area stages and on screen over many years. Her films include the award winning East Side Sushi. Miyoko is founding director of Playland Productions. Deepest gratitude to Richard for his unwavering love and encouragement.
Max Seijas (Sasha Ponlius) Max is thrilled to be back doing theatre in person and make his Actors Ensemble of Berkeley debut! Previously seen in the TheaterWorks’ Oscar tour series, New Conservatory Theater’s You’ll Catch Flies, and Left Coast Theater Company’s The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told. Massive thanks and love to his friends, family, and the Bay Area theatre community!
Nathan Boger (Lighting Design) Nathan has been on and offstage in over 200 productions including lighting the controversial 4:48 Psychosis (Anton’s Well), performing in a Chronicle Pink Section cover story: Witch Hunt (Sam Parris, Those Women Productions) or adapting mysterious classics such as Baskerville (coming soon) or The Bat (from M. R. Rhinehart’s original). He is the Vice President of and the technical advisor for Actors Ensemble of Berkeley. He studied technical theater at Diablo Valley College, and playwriting and performance at the Berkeley Rep School of Theater.
Misha Carlson (Anne Handell / Victoria Bilboa) Misha is thrilled to be involved in theater again after a long hiatus. She got her B.S. degree (literally) from Tufts University in Clinical Psychology and daylights as a psychosis researcher at UCSF while making time for music, hiking, dogsitting, crisis support, and cooking elaborate meals. Previous roles include Hope in Urinetown, Louise in Gypsy, and Myrtle in The Great Gatsby. Love always to her family, friends, castmates, and beloved dachshund mix Luna.
Glenn Havlan (Dr. Michael Ponlius) Glenn last performed with AEB in An Enemy of the People in 2018. He has been making music and theater in the Bay Area for over forty years. He has appeared with many groups, frequently with the Marin Shakespeare Company. Last summer, he was seen as Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night with The Curtain Theatre in Mill Valley and will work with them again this year in The Two Gentlemen of Verona. From 2001-2010 Glenn was the Producing Director of the San Francisco Free Civic Theater, producing thirty-seven shows in that time. From 2014-2019, he was the Producing Director of the Theater of Others in San Francisco, specializing in rarely produced plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries. He has been in over thirty productions of twenty different Shakespeare plays.
Jenny Yang (Costume Design) Jenny is a local artist based out of Oakland who works in different mediums from paint, to installation, DIY arts/crafts, community and spatial organizing, with a love for collaborating and helping people get their creative projects off the ground and into fruition. Muffy Koster (Isabel Isley / Alex Merchant) Muffy is a writer, performer, and experimental actress living on Ramaytush Ohlone land, called San Francisco. Mothers All, along with her concurrent performance in The Gospel Of Orpheus by Muse Lee, marks her return to theatre after a long hiatus. Muffy loves exploring the coast with her partner Nemu and their dog Mukbang.
Sarah Lee (Clementine Brown) Sarah has worked with Pacifica Spindrift Players, Silicon Valley Shakespeare and Berkeley Shakespeare Company. She is thrilled to be joining the cast of Mothers All with AE of Berkeley. When not acting, she works as a nurse practitioner and has her life dictated by her cat Timothy.
Andrew MacIver (Music Design) Andrew spends his waking hours herding cats who can write computer programs. He often presses buttons that make sound, sometimes in front of people, sometimes not. He met the author of this play before she could drive a car.
Zanib Naeem (Costume Design) Zanib is very excited to assist with the art of costuming, and has a minor in Art Practice from UC Berkeley. She is humbled to be part of such an amazing production with a dynamic cast. In the past, she has done artwork for UC Berkeley’s diversity award, thesis exhibitions, and restoration of murals, and is looking forward to further exploring how to translate and communicate atmosphere and feeling through wearable art forms.
Natasha Morrondoz (Stage Manager) After years of working in mental health as a therapist, Natasha decided to rekindle her love for theater and the performing arts. Mothers All is her first gig as a stage manager in years and she is very excited to work with creative, talented people. When she’s not at work or rehearsal, she is experimenting new bakes in the kitchen or writing Loki fan-fictions.
Good grief dear humans. This play began as a 10-minute short, a response to “reimagine history” in celebration of 100 years of women’s suffrage. A call put out in 2019. I spiraled out a tiny news story on a dead son’s sperm into a full-length work over the length of COVID and submitted it to Actor’s Ensemble with Lauren almost exactly a year ago.
What a formidable, beautiful victory over sickness and fear to sit here and watch these brilliant humans sparkle across our makeshift stage. What a goddamn joy it’s been to wrangle this admittedly rather harrowing play into being.
To think I was once consumed with such miserable ennui I used to linger by the grocery checkout clutching my milk in the hungry hopes of devouring 25 more seconds of conversation.
I have a lot of morbid curiosity. Which is to say I’m very invested in where we’re headed as a species. And being a 38-year-old woman, that means a lot of humans in my orbit are having children, can’t have children, are paying to conceive children, are burying unborn children — tiny beautiful stones rushed away by a strange river of blood.
The questions of life and how we make it, of mothers and birth and skin and glass began to consume me. Still do I suppose.
And everything you’ll hear in this play is something that has happened—including the ghosts, just ask my father!—or is poised to.
And what of my heart? It’s racing with gratitude. To Lauren, my dear comrade without whom none of this would have been possible, the actors and their spectacular spirits, to Adam, whose love burns bright bright bright when I’m dark dark dark, to my given family (who came from near and far!) and my chosen one.
Thank you for coming out. I hope you enjoy watching it as much as we’ve enjoyed making it.
Katie Tandy, Playwright
Around the time I started to help Katie edit Mothers All, I was going through the process of freezing my eggs. In this obvious moment of life imitating art, I acutely felt the burden of being a woman in our “modern” times—a burden of biology, society, culture, expectations, and the like. Putting my body through what felt like an unnatural (if not remarkable) science experiment, I caught a tiny glimpse of the future that Mothers All portends. And while I’m very grateful I had the means and ability to go through the process, it tugged at that part of me that looks at our future with trepidation and wonders: how much stranger might the science get?
I certainly hope it doesn’t get as strange and awful as the world we created in Mothers All. Katie and I have often turned to each other in rehearsal, tears in our eyes watching a moving performance by our actors, and whispered to each other: “Why is this play so sad? Who even wrote this horrifyingly sad play?!” Inevitably our inside joke always ends with cackling laughter at the idea of subjecting you all to this tragedy. Because yes, while life is nothing but relentless—especially for the characters in Mothers All—finding joy amongst the sorrow is usually the only way through.
And what greater joy might one find than creating art with friends and amazing collaborators? I am overjoyed to have found a cast of wildly talented and passionate actors who have brought their entire selves to these characters—working diligently to represent them truthfully on this stage. And to Katie, who holds the rarest title of dear friend and best creative collaborator, I am so grateful for your partnership, ever and always.
Please remember to laugh through the tears!
Lauren Rosenfield, Directer
Actors Ensemble thanks Monkeybrains for letting us use their warehouse for two special performances of "Mothers All". Monkeybrains (https://www.monkeybrains.net/) is a San Francisco-based internet service provider (ISP) founded by Rudy Rucker and Alex Menendex in 1998. Monkeybrains operates a hybrid network of fiber optic and high capacity wireless links servicing over 14,000 locations with over 50 new locations coming online every week. Monkeybrains takes a progress stance on Net Neutrality and we believe the Internet should be secure, unbiased, and available to all.
P.O. Box 663
Berkeley, CA 94701
A 501(3)(c) organization