February 23, 2019

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Taking Your Child to Work, When Your Job Is Making Theater

Taking Your Child to Work, When Your Job Is Making Theater
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Ms. Jones brought her own babysitter, but there is now nature-focused arts programming, led by theater educators, for children while the parents work. The artists have adults-only lunches, but are joined by the children for family-style dinners, and at the end of the week, just as the artists present to their colleagues a sample of the work they have been developing, the children display their own handiwork. (The week I visited, the children were turning their clubhouse into a museum to exhibit their farm-inspired visual art, as well as practicing dance moves to “Let It Go.”)

Among the parents there this summer, working in a barn beside bales of hay and strings of drying garlic bulbs, were a married couple, the composer-lyricist César Alvarez and the visual artist Emily Orling. They were starting work on a musical about motherhood inspired by Ms. Orling’s own experience.

“I felt particularly trapped and shocked by the limitations of being a mother, and I endured a lot of that postpartum anxiety and depression,” she said. The work, she said, will examine “what is female; what does it mean to be a mother, and what does it mean to be creative.”

“Lifespan of a Fact” tested a different proposition: that new parents could be accommodated by a commercial Broadway play hurtling toward opening night.

“I feel like I had to make a very conscious decision not to pursue having a family, and for my female colleagues who have made that other choice, I don’t want them to be punished,” Ms. Silverman said. “I just tried to make it as easy as possible.”

So she organized a phone call with the designers, and asked them for a wish list. The result: A dressing area was converted into a lactation room, with a lock, an outlet, a chair and a refrigerator so women could breast-pump. Another was set aside for a play space, so on especially grueling days the designers could bring their children, as well as someone to mind them, to the theater. The requests were made easier by the fact that the play has just a three-person cast, so there were rooms to spare backstage, and the producers readily agreed.

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