Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre’s ‘The Mamalogues’ explores Black motherhood


Courtesy of Yancey Hughes

Stacie Doublin, Sylvia Wynn and Sandra Adjoumani. They are the sole actors in Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre’s “The Mamalogues.”

Charlotte Varnes, Managing Editor

For actor Sylvia Wynn, performing in a 90-minute play with no intermission was a change of pace.

She’s been doing it week after week in Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre’s “The Mamalogues,” which explores Black motherhood and its intersections with sexuality, class and racial equity.

“There’s no stop and reset in live theatre,” Wynn said. “You’re in this space for 90 minutes, and it’s an absolute challenge for me. I’m only hoping that I can do justice to this production.”

Set at a retreat for “Bougie Black Single Mothers,” the show features three actors: Wynn, Stacie Doublin and Sandra Adjoumani. They share anxieties about raising Black children and discuss their own experiences, bouncing between comedic and serious tones. 

Rehearsals began at the end of June, and shows began July 23. Throughout the process, Wynn said, the cast members meshed and supported one another, which has paid off during shows.

“If one of us slips, the other person is here to pick them up,” Wynn said. “That is one of the great things about the rehearsals — we were able to help each other out and we can do the same onstage.”

In a larger production, Adjoumani said, she might grow close with just one or two castmates. With just three actors in “The Mamalogues,” Adjoumani said she was able to form tight bonds with both Doublin and Wynn, which makes the show come across as real. 

Adjoumani credited director Tim Rhoze for his encouragement throughout rehearsals as well. He provided her a different perspective, she said, and pushed her to use her voice. 

She portrays Beverly, a new member of the group who Adjoumani said is initially shy but emerges as a “strong character.” As someone who tends to be more reserved, Adjoumani said she had to work to “pull the boldness out” of herself in some scenes.

While Wynn isn’t exactly like her character Lauren, who runs the retreat, she said she sees herself in Lauren’s optimistic attitude. Wynn said she most enjoys the character’s “positive outlook” and how she tries to uplift others and triumph over challenges — as Wynn strives to do in her own life. 

Although it is a comedy, “The Mamalogues” takes on serious topics like racial profiling and discrimination. Adjoumani said she resonated with some of the show’s material but has rarely spoken about those subjects — especially to a large audience. 

“It feels like, ‘Wow, I’m being very vulnerable in front of people and sharing my experience,’ which is good,” Adjoumani said. 

Moving between lighthearted and emotion-filled scenes brought challenges, too. Adjoumani said there is an instance in the show when she cries during one scene and laughs in the next. It took practice to balance the emotions and not let them get to her, she said.

The show has something for everyone, Wynn said, from laughter to tears. The play can be an important learning experience for audiences as well, she said.

“There’s some audiences that will relate very much,” Wynn said. “But there are some audiences that will learn what African American women go through, and not just African American — women in general. They’ll know what they go through.”

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Twitter: @charvarnes11

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