Local playwright wins national acclaim for debut play
By CHRIS BOURNEA
Staff Writer for the Call and Post
Columbus playwright Nanette Hodge has garnered national attention for her critically acclaimed play, “Mamas’ Drama.” The play will be presented on Saturday, Sept. 21, at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Columbus Performing Arts Center, 549 Franklin Ave.
In addition to its upcoming performance in Columbus, the show was featured at the DC Black Theatre Festival in Washington, D.C., in June and will be presented at the Atlanta Black Theatre Festival in Atlanta in October. “Mamas’ Drama” was also featured in a coveted slot at the National Black Theatre Festival (NBTF) in Winston-Salem, N.C., in July.
Hodge related that it was a dream come true to have her work showcased at the prestigious NBTF event, which draws African-American celebrities from theater, film and television.
“The festival chose 45 plays and I was one of nine playwrights on the A-list, which meant we could choose our (performance) dates,” Hodge said. “To be sitting in a room with my peers and sharing my work and hearing them say (positive comments) was like, ‘Wow!’ I felt like a little girl, that I got everything I wanted for Christmas.”
“Mamas’ Drama” kicked off the NBTF’s play-reading series at midnight on July 30. The series featured actors reading the dialogue of featured plays. Throughout the festival, attendees approached Hodge and said they enjoyed the play, and she also overheard several people repeating lines of dialogue.
“That felt really wondrous,” Hodge said. “People appreciated what they heard. They really gave us a lot of love.”
Presenting “Mamas’ Drama” at the NBTF had a special meaning for Hodge, who is known professionally as “Nanette Marie.” While she was attending the festival in 2007, her mother passed away. Hodge later decided to write about her mother’s life, and the story eventually became the play “Mamas’ Drama.”
Hodge said she has been pleased to discover that theater patrons from around the country can relate to her mother’s story.
“We had a room full of people. We had great attendance. We had celebrities in the audience” at the NBTF
reading, Hodge said. “People came up to me and said, ‘How did you know my story’?”
Directed by Mark E. Pinkston, “Mamas’ Drama” follows four generations as they face secrets and lies which create the “mama’s baby, daddy’s maybe” dilemma – the father’s identity is uncertain. The epic story traces the characters’ lives from 1929 to 2004, and the themes in the show are all the more poignant since it’s based on a true story, Hodge said.
“I know writing this healing play is affecting people’s lives in a great way,” she said.
The positive response thus far to “Mamas’ Drama” has been encouraging, Hodge said.
“I read somewhere that plays allow people to dream while they’re awake. You can see yourself in those characters,” she said. “The biggest message is you’re not alone.”
For tickets and more information about “Mamas’ Drama,” call (614) 754-0684 or visit Mamasdramaplaybook.com.