What would you do if someone you loved sat down with you one night and calmly told you that they were going to end their life before morning?


by Marsha Norman

Featuring –  Sylvia Owens, Nadia Duran, Lawrence Holmes

 ‘NIGHT, MOTHER is about a daughter, Jessie, and her mother, Thelma and a parent’s worst nightmare. Jessie calmly tells her Mama that by morning she will be dead, as she plans to commit suicide that very evening. She is a middle-aged epileptic unable to hold a job, or drive, with a failed marriage and a drug-addicted runaway son on the wrong side of the law, and can find no reason to go on living. How can Thelma convince her daughter that life is worth living if she can’t feel her pain? How can she end her daughter’s embrace of death before morning? Will she succeed?

Jessie tells her mother, “No, Mama! This is how I have my say. This is how I say what I thought about it all and I say no. Jessie sees her decision as a powerful assertion of will, of choice. She states, “But I can stop it. Shut it down. Turn it off like a radio when there’s nothing on that I want to listen to. It’s all I really have that belongs to me, and I’m going to say what happens to it. And it’s going to stop, and I’m going to stop it.”

Jessie does not approach the suicide in a cowardly fashion, alone and unannounced; rather, she states, clearly and plainly, her intentions, even attempting to explain her decision to her mother. Jessie is unhurried; she even seems to relish the moments of empowerment succeeding her decision, drawing them out as she completes everyday tasks and engages in idle gossip. Jessie finally holds the power of decision, and we watch as her weak character melts away. She even tells her mother she never did like that nasty old hot chocolate.

‘NIGHT, MOTHER reveals the importance of conviction, self-actualization, identity, and autonomy. Ultimately, Jessie seizes the opportunity to make her own choice, to fulfill her own destiny, and, in doing so, she declares her independence.

The author Marsha Norman was born in Kentucky in 1947. Her family chose to isolate her rather than expose her ideas that challenged their own as religious fundamentalists. She worked with gifted and emotionally disturbed children, has been married three times and has two children.

NIGHT, MOTHER by Marsha Norman received the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Play.

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