Yukon Arts Centre
When you have a baby, everyone else becomes an expert on parenting. At least, that’s what they think.
“Everybody knows better,” says Romy Seibt. “Like, everybody is talking to you. You have to deal with so many things people just say to you from the outside and they think they know it better.”
It can be especially damaging when you’re in that vulnerable new-mom phase, Seibt says.
You hear the advice and the corrections and you internalize them. You start to worry that you’re no good at parenting. That you’re screwing up your child. You lose your self-confidence — in many areas of your life.
For Seibt, a trained circus performer and mother of two, that included her professional confidence. After she had her first kid, people assumed she would stop performing, she says. And then when you don’t quit, when you still have the urge to go out and take a show on tour, you’re judged for it. Wouldn’t a good mom put her travelling days behind her and stay home with the kids? That’s the feedback you get. It’s exhausting. It’s isolating. It’s also common. That’s why Seibt and the Berlin-based circus collective, still hungry, developed Raven.
The performance comes to the Yukon Arts Centre on May 6. It uses a mix of dance, acrobatics and words to focus on the tension and contradictions inherent in motherhood. Raven illustrates the complications of motherhood in a way that doesn’t shy away from opposing truths, like how you can love your child and have regrets; be grateful you’re a mother and want to do your own thing; feel guilty and resentful and loving all at once.
It started as a conversation between Seibt and still hungry collaborators, Anke van Engelshoven and Lena Ries. The three women have worked together for years across different productions and venues. Seibt and van Engelshoven even went to performing arts school together.
“And then of course, we became moms and life shifted even more as a performer,” says Seibt. “And it really connected and bonded us so strongly because there’s so many problems coming along. Then there was this one point that we said, ‘let’s actually make a show about that.’”
Since they started performing the piece in 2019, where it won multiple awards at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the feedback from audience members has been huge. And it doesn’t just come from mothers, though moms number among their most vocal fans.
Seibt says men tell her it’s helped them understand the women in their lives. Older couples say it’s an important conversation to have. Younger couples who have chosen not to have kids tell her the play highlights one of the reasons — that they get judged for not having kids, but they know they’d be judged in a different way for having them.
Seibt says still hungry only started touring the performance shortly before the pandemic shut things down for a while, but she’s noticed a change in the way people are receiving it now versus then. It feels like the pandemic made it even more clear how much mothers struggle.
In Germany, everyone was stuck at home. Often, home-schooling fell to moms.
“A lot of women were really trapped at home and doing this like it used to be 50 years ago,” says Seibt. “And because of this I have the feeling more and more people had the urge to talk about it. And when we then performed again (after restrictions lifted), you really could feel that people wanted to talk about this subject, how it changes your life when you become a mom and you have to sit in a certain role.”
People want to break it down, she says. They want to talk about it, make it visible, open up and speak out. Raven gives people a starting point.
“I think sometimes maybe it just gives some people like the courage to talk within their relationship or within the group of people they are just in, or to speak about some of the things that you hide in yourself.”
Tickets are available at yukonartscentre.com