Carleton Bluford’s Mama: You Will Call Your Mom When It’s Over

Photo Credit: Rick Pollock

Photo Credit: Rick Pollock

Plan B Theatre proves once again that it is a major force for progressive narratives in Salt Lake City with Carleton Bluford’s Mama. Mama is the first world premier play by an African-American playwright to debut in Utah. Ever. Bluford’s play explores motherhood across time, race, class, and technology. He gathered stories about mothers via Facebook, and the four actors, Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin, William Cooper Howell, Latoya Rhodes and Elizabeth Summerhays,  read the stories verbatim in front of a projector with the beaming faces of mothers from all walks of life–some who are bald from chemo, others who are no longer alive. The play interweaves these Facebook narratives, timeless quotes about motherhood, and scenes with other mamas from history and Carleton’s life.

Mama is all the more powerful knowing a bit of the back story of its funding from the David Ross Fetzer Foundation for Emerging Artists (The Davey Foundation). The foundation is in its second year, and was created by Betsy Ross and her husband after their son David Ross Fetzer passed away unexpectedly at age thirty. David was a talented young man who was a fixture at Plan B. David and Carelton have been in several works together, and a snippet of David singing to his mother is featured in the play.

Mama rose to the top of the pile in the Davey Foundation’s funding competition, and was selected in a blind reading of more than twenty works. I was fortunate enough to attend a premiere of the play last week and meet Carleton. He was exuberant and kind, and his play is heart wrenching, beautiful, and expertly executed. I guarantee that you will walk out of the theatre and call your mom. If not, you weren’t paying attention.

Tickets are still on sale, and I can’t tell you enough how much you need to go see it! Performances will run Feb. 12-22, with shows Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 4 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. in the Studio Theatre at Rose Wagner Center for Performing Arts in downtown Salt Lake City.

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