By Sara Collas
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 06/27/2022 – It wasn’t hard to notice all the beauty on stage for the production, “Untitled Baby Play” that took place during a Saturday matinee at the Iama Theatre Company in Atwater Village.
All the actresses Cynthia San Luis (Penny), Brie Carter (Gillian), Ari Hader (Eden), Ellen Haun (Meredith), Julia Manis (Natalia), and Kristina Mueller (Clara) could easily become famous Hollywood stars with their chiseled cheek bones, good looks, and incredible acting skills.
Instead, they were all understudies to a play whose subject matter is so relevant today. A woman’s right to make her own life decisions. Other universal themes in this women-centered play included female friendship, depression, the fear of an unwanted pregnancy, societal pressure for women to have babies, and the bathroom as a site of refuge and escape from forced smiles.
“The impossibility of being a woman” is what the play is about according to Julia Manis, who played the role of Natalia. She riveted the audience with a ten minute monologue that ended with a series of dramatic “What Ifs.” Her monologue was worthy of a Saturday Night Live performance. An audience member was overheard saying: “That scene was worth the entire ticket price”. What if I had chosen to have a baby? What if my eggs dry up too soon? What if I’m pregnant and don’t know the father’s name. What if I want a child, and my partner doesn’t? We have all struggled at the choices we’ve made that can haunt us like invited ghosts. The star of the show, San Luis beautifully captures the emotional rollercoaster associated with trying to become pregnant as she obsessively plans a baby shower.
The writer, Nina Braddock avoids sentimentality and trite clichés surrounding motherhood. “Women die from having babies” she reminds us.
The Director, Katie Lindsay and Associate Director, Melissa Coleman-Reed along with the cast put together a production worthy of a Broadway hit. A thunderous standing ovation ended this unforgettable play.
Written by Nina Braddock
Directed by Katie Lindsay
Starring Laila Ayad, Anna Rose Hopkins, Courtney Sauls, Sonal Shah, Jenny Soo, Sarah Utterback
Understudies: Brie Carter, Ari Hader, Ellen Haun, Julia Manis, Kristina Mueller, Cynthia San Luis
Creative Team: Lexi Sloan, Paige Hullett, Nikita Chaudhry, Savanha Moore, Melissa Coleman-Reed, Cindy Lin, Dan Weingarten, Michael O’Hara, Andrea ‘Slim’ Allmond, Alexis Chaney, Lauren “Lars” McCuen, Sarah Costigan, Rose Krol, Avery Orvis
Presented by IAMA Theatre Company, Stefanie Black, artistic director
About IAMA Theatre Company
IAMA THEATRE COMPANY is a Los Angeles-based ensemble of artists committed to cultivating new voices and creating new works that push boundaries and take risks, while fostering an inclusive community that inspires theatre-makers of future generations. IAMA is invested in challenging our audiences with an authentic experience that reflects our complex modern world.
We envision a Los Angeles theatre landscape that is robust, inclusive, and offers the very best professional opportunities for theatre artists, and high quality theatrical productions. We see IAMA Theatre Company as a major facilitator of the evolution of this Los Angeles landscape, modeling change and possibility for the American Theatre. IAMA is on the path to becoming a long standing mid-size theatrical institution in the greater Los Angeles area. Our legacy will be one of multi-level offerings for both artists and audiences. We see a future full of collaborations with other like-minded theatres, developing new works from the ground up, sharing our ensemble driven ethos with our fellow theatre-makers. We seek to maintain the highest standards in providing artists a living wage, this includes everyone from our actors, playwrights, directors, designers, to our staff and stagehands, front of house and beyond. Our Education platform will be at the core of our outreach to our larger Los Angeles community, including paid fellowships for Artists in Residence. Our marketing efforts will set a new standard of accessibility in theatre for all to see, experience and consume. We seek to bring those who have never traditionally been to the theater into our world. Our doors will always be open.