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'Ya Mama!' Explores Motherhood at Cleveland Public Theatre

As its title suggests, "Ya Mama!" centers on themes of motherhood.  But the themes sprout from the very personal story of acclaimed local actor, Nina Domingue, who grew up with a stepmom after she lost her own mother to suicide when she was only four years old. 

This month the autobiographical show returns to Cleveland Public Theater where it first debuted back in 2011. 

Before that first run, Domingue spoke with ideastream's Dee Perry.

Nina Domingue in "Ya Mama!" [photo: Steve Wagner]

About the inspiration of "Ya Mama!"

"The story that began to emerge was more about, 'How do I become a mother, when I have all of these conflicting images of what a mother is.'"

Nina Domingue in "Ya Mama!" [photo: Steve Wagner]

On playing "the dozens" on the playground

"We're going to play 'the dozens' now and we're going to tell these 'ya mama' jokes.  I just had a different reaction to that always because it was like, 'well I have a mom, but it's not my mom. Do I have to go through this explanation every time we play this game?'"

Nina Domingue in "Ya Mama!" [photo: Steve Wagner]

On the book that helped inspire the play, "Motherless Daughters," by Hope Edelman

"I thought my particular experience was very singular because of the way that my mother died.  The author had interviewed over a 1,000 women and everyone is having the same experience.  It was like, 'Oh I have to tell [my] story because if this person's mother died in a car accident and she's feeling this particular way and this person's mother was murdered, and everyone thinks their experience is so singular when in fact we're all having very simlar experiences.'"

"Ya Mama!" is onstage at Cleveland Public Theater through October 27


View this post on Instagram @ninadomingue talks about “Ya Mama” onstage @cptcle for more visit Applause.ideastream.org or listen to 90.3 FM #clevelandpublictheatre

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Dave DeOreo is coordinating producer for Ideastream Public Media’s arts and culture team.