What makes a mother? Influential Toronto women discuss the question Thursday

Andrea OReilly and Priscila Uppal

What makes a mother? That is what five of Toronto’s most influential women will discuss Thursday at Factory Theatre, followed by a performance of the play 6 Essential Questions by English Professor and poet Priscila Uppal.

6 Essential Questions challenges the belief that everyone loves their mothers, and mothers love their children unconditionally. But is this always the case? The character of Renata grapples with these issues in the play based on Uppal’s experience reuniting with her mother after 20 years apart.

These questions and more will be discussed in the 6 Essential Questions panel discussion, “What Makes a Mother”, March 20, from 6:30 to 7:30pm, at Factory Theatre, 125 Bathurst St. (at Adelaide) in Toronto, followed by a performance of the show. For tickets, call 416-504-9971 or visit the Factory Theatre website.

Priscila Uppal
Priscila Uppal

The panel discussion will feature Factory Theatre Co-Artistic Director Nina Lee Aquino, parenting expert Kathy Buckworth, York women’s studies Professor Andrea O’Reilly, lifestyle blogger Emma Waverman and Uppal.

Aquino is a director, dramaturge and playwright. She was the founding artistic director of fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre Company, the former artistic director of Cahoots Theatre Company and is currently co-artistic director of Factory Theatre. She is also the editor of Canada’s first Asian-Canadian two-volume drama anthology, titled love + relasianships, and the co-editor of the award-winning New Essays on Canadian Theatre Volume One: Asian Canadian Theatre.

Buckworth is an award-winning writer, public speaker, spokesperson and television personality. She is the author of six books, with her latest, I Am So The Boss Of You, recently optioned by Warner Brothers Television. In addition to being a parenting expert appearing on Cityline, Breakfast Television, Canada AM and CTV Newschannel, she also contributes to a variety of Canadian publications.

Andrea O'Reilly
Andrea O’Reilly

O’Reilly is a professor in the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at York University. She is founder and director of the Motherhood Initiative for Research & Community Involvement, founder and editor-in-chief of the Journal of the Motherhood Initiative, and founder and editor of Demeter Press, the first feminist press on motherhood. She is also the editor and author of 20 books, including the first encyclopedia on motherhood.

Uppal is a poet, novelist and York University professor. Among her publications are nine collections of poetry, including Ontological Necessities, which was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize, and Traumatology, and her novels, The Divine Economy of Salvation and To Whom It May Concern. She was the first-ever CANFund poet-in-residence for the Vancouver and London Olympics. Her memoir, Projection: Encounters with my Runaway Mother, was a finalist for the $60,000 Hilary Weston Writers Trust Prize and the Governor General’s Award. Six Essential Questions, adapted from the memoir, is her first play.

Waverman is the opinionated writer behind the popular parenting blog Embrace the Chaos. Embrace the Chaos has been ranked in numerous top-10 and must-read lists by Reader’s Digest, Canadian Family, Today’s Parent, Canadian Living and more. She is also the author of the bestselling family cookbook Whining and Dining: Mealtime Survival for Picky Eaters and Families Who Love Them. Waverman’s lifestyle writing can be found in national magazines and newspapers, including Today’s Parent, Canadian Living, Food and Drink and others.

A poetic, powerful carnival of theatre, 6 Essential Questions is directed by Leah Cherniak, co-founder of Theatre Columbus, well-known for work with new Canadian plays and the genre of physical theatre. Mina James (Taming of the Shrew and Macbeth/Shakespeare in High Park/Canadian Stage) plays Renata, Elizabeth Saunders (In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play/Tarragon Theatre) plays her mother, Maggie Huculak (Divisadero/Necessary Angel Theatre Company; Travesties/Soulpepper) plays her grandmother, and Richard Zeppieri (Lady in the Red Dress/fu-GEN Asian-Canadian Theatre Company) plays her uncle.