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Tuesday, December 12

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Theatre Wed Oct 07 2009

Journey to the Center of the Uterus: Adventures Infertility!

Kathleen Puls AndradeKathleen Puls Andrade's one-woman show, currently running at the Greenhouse Theater Center, is a biographical account of her experience with infertility, but she stresses that its not just for couples who struggle with the issue. Kathleen, who can also be seen in Put The Nuns In Charge, the long-running sequel to Late Night Catechism, hopes that by exploring the issue of infertility onstage it will start to lose some of its stigma and begin to make its way into more discussions. "It's a comedy meant to entertain although it does have a message," she says, "and it's not just for women either. It has a universal appeal with universal themes of hope, frustration, regrouping and moving on."

Kathleen uses humor and multimedia visuals to tell her story - and by proxy, the stories of countless other women and couples who have struggled with infertility. Through the use of voice recordings and animation reminiscent of Dr. Katz, we hear the story of Jane, a woman in her eighties who never had children; Lory and Otto, a couple in their fifties who adopted two boys many years ago; and Dave, who relates the humiliating and seldom heard experience of having to produce a sperm sample for In Vitro Fertilization. "The room was a horrible nasty taupe," Dave relates, "and the porn magazines were at least 15 years old."

Donning a White Sox hat, Kathleen channels her husband Jose (who was seated in the audience) and relates his experience of the journey, and by turns acts out the parts of her mother in-law, bosses who weren't sympathetic to her requests for time off for fertility treatments and various fertility experts. In one sequence we hear Atmospheres - the music used in the opening sequence of 2001: A Space Odyssey, while Kathleen stands onstage with half a melon and a turkey baster and engages in what can only be described as an expressive interlude with props - and that's not the only symbolic food used in the piece.

Some people watch the show as a catharsis for their own experience of infertility; during one particularly moving scene where Kathleen finds out that she's lost a pregnancy, I could hear sniffles coming from a couple seated nearby. Kathleen has received feedback from her audiences over the past several months and made changes along the way - in fact, she requests feedback. At the end of the show she asks the audience for their opinions on what worked in her performance and what didn't. The first question asked after the performance I went to was "did you end up adopting?" Kathleen is remarkably open about where she and her husband are with respect to starting a family, and she candidly explained that she and her husband are not sure at the moment whether or not they will adopt. Recently, one woman told Kathleen that it made her so happy to hear Kathleen sing "Stupid Things People Say," a song detailing a litany of insensitive questions people have asked her, that she wished she could record Kathleen singing it and play it back to anyone who asked her those kinds of questions.

This is not passive theater, if you're seated anywhere in the first three rows Kathleen might include you in the piece, either by handing you a piece of suggestive fruit or inviting you to come onstage to become part of the play itself. And despite the heavy nature of the material, its not depressing theater either. Kathleen's final line, "If this journey really is over then a new one begins, and I know we'll laugh our way through that one too," is more of a segue than an ending.

Journey To The Center of the Uterus: Adventures Infertility! Shows on Wednesdays at 8pm, Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 3pm and 7pm through October 28th. Tickets are $22 (but if you show up to the Wednesday, October 7th show with a head shot or voice-over demo you get in free). For more information visit JourneyToTheCenterOfTheUterus.com, for tickets call 773.404.7336 or visit GreenHouseTheater.org.

 
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Curt / October 8, 2009 4:49 PM

I have seen the show, and it is great! I would like to bring some other friends with me next time because I am sure they would enjoy it as well. It is both funny and touching. A real must see.

Elizabeth Handbury / October 9, 2009 12:06 AM

I am so impressed on the ability you have always had to open your heart to so many.
This is a must see for my friend who has been through the struggles of infertility.I hope I am fortunate enough to see it.

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Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
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Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

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