Joanna Rosenfeld

© Joanna Rosenfeld, 'Motherhood the (Un)speakable (Un)spoken', 2015,


Joanna Rosenfeld (UK, Brighton)
Motherhood: the (Un)speakable (Un)spoken (2015)
Cross-art form Performance


“Giving birth and having children has had the biggest impact of any single event on me as a woman, my practice as a theatre maker and my artistry. I discovered the limits of my physical and emotional body, went through a demeaning hospital birth only to be empowered by a homebirth with our second child, negotiated what kind of mother I wanted and needed to be, how to care for another human being and then managed two small people and their relationship with one another. I grew, let go of ambitions and dreams, developed new dreams and ultimately softened and changed my practice, widening, deepening and opening my work.

Making any kind of performance piece has been difficult, and there doesn’t seem to be a blueprint for a working practice that works well with parenting and family life. After attempting to work in the prevalent immersive style and making myself very ill (as well as spreading unhappiness in our home), I developed a compartmentalising slow cooker making technique, and have been brewing this piece of work since 2010 in residential workshops, an artist retreat with Nancy Spanier and Paul Oertel in France, Authentic Artist Asylum Days and on 10 separate days working with the director Kath Burlinson in her studio.

‘Motherhood: the (Un)speakable (Un)spoken’ is an exploration of themes of motherhood, including the negative, the traumatic and the painful, like postnatal depression, which is grounded in interviews, conversations, observations, improvisations and autobiographical material. It aims to open a space for stories about births and parenting, to share experiences and prompt responses from its audiences, and to normalise our unique journeys by taking away (self) judgement and fear.