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GUEST BLOG: Raging Mother – Working with your partner.

Writer: Hanna Vahtikari

I can still remember very clearly the day when I birthed the idea of Raging Mother. I said to my husband (Marzi Nyman) that I was sick and tired of the “ideal of a good mother”, something that I thought I could never fit in to. I was temperamental, impulsive and short-tempered, and I still am. And even though I had lots of friends, I couldn’t talk to anyone about my deepest feelings and darkest moments of motherhood. I was too ashamed. So I decided to say it all out loud, and to do a show about it, of course with a little twist of fiction and exaggeration.

”What do you say, you fancy coming along?”, I asked him. ”Of course I’m in!” he said. Little did he know what he was letting himself in for!

I’ve been very fortunate to work with Marzi and not least because he’s one of the best, most creative and craziest musicians I’ve ever known. This journey together has been unique to us both, something that we did not see coming either as artists or as parents. And it has also been very convenient to rehearse in our own living room!

But it hasn’t always been easy to work with my companion. ”You would never talk to a ”normal” colleague like that” he’s said to me about a hundred times. And that’s true. In some situations, I’ve been the worst director ever and my husband has been more than patient with the circumstances. On the last week of rehearsal he asked me: ”Okay, Hanna, do you have anything to say to me? I mean, I think I would benefit from some good tips for my acting”. I’d been so concentrated on myself and on the structure of the play that I’d forgotten to help and direct Marzi. After that we had a good conversation, and I found the exact words to help him to find the right mood for being on stage and he was relieved.

I have certainly needed some patience with my husband too. He can, sometimes, be the most absent-minded human being in the world. Whereas I can be the most focused! So our collaboration has been a mixture of both our professional and real life roles, but I think that’s quite human, after all. The most important thing has been that from the beginning we both believed that Raging Mother is a play worth doing, although I was scared and afraid to talk about the rage, for example. Me and Marzi, we both share the same values in life, so in that way it has been easy to work together. We’re both quite fast thinkers onstage and we like to make fast decisions as well. But of course in some situations I can see from my husband’s face he’s really annoyed with me telling him what to do. I don’t think it’s been easy for him to accept me being the boss lady. And especially when I interfere with his music making (without any competence on my behalf!).

What keeps us together both as a couple and as colleagues is our mutual respect for one another. It’s what makes us a good team. We both love the feeling of being spontaneous and living in the moment. I think the feeling of danger is just as an important part of acting and theatre as the feeling of control is. And I think it’s the same feeling for Marzi as he plays and composes music.

Raging Mother isn’t about the husband nor the kids, although I’ve used my own and also some of our shared experiences as the basis of the play. Raging Mother is all about the mother. This has been very important to me: the point of view in Raging Mother is strictly the story of one mother. I’ve had to speak with my own voice in Raging Mother. That way I think it also touches the audience in a much stronger and more personal way, at least I hope it does!

So you are all very much welcome to share the moment with us.

RAGING MOTHER – Zoo Southside, Edinburgh Fringe 5 – 20 August 2022

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