Like Mother, Like Daughter is a unique theatre-going experience. Co-created by Ravi Jain and Rose Plotek in 2014 for OFFTA, Like Mother, Like Daughter brings pairs of mothers and their daughters from the Montreal Jewish Community together with their audience to talk and share a meal.
Stephanie Weiner (SW): Now, anyone can do a Google search and see that you’re an actor, director, artistic director. What wouldn’t you find in a Google search about you?
Ravi Jain (RJ): (laughing) I like pizza! I’m from Toronto, I’m a theater maker. I like to collaborate, I’m someone who likes to work with people.
SW: You were once quoted as saying that “Theatre makes connections.” In a work such as Like Mother, Like Daughter, it really has the potential to not only bring the actors but also the audience and the community together. Tell me more about what you and Rose set out to do.
RJ: It all happened sort of by accident. I had created a show with my mother called A Brim Full of Asha and put it on at Usine C in Montreal. In 2014, the producer of Complicite approached me to create a show, she always wanted to create a piece about mothers and daughters and what are the traditions we pass on. She quickly connected us with OFFTA, and because of the funding, it was decided to make it about Jewish mothers and daughters. I approached Rose, as someone who is a brilliant director I’ve always wanted to work with, and as someone who has lived that perspective. Because I was a foreigner in the world of Jewish mothers and daughters, all I could do was ask people questions. So, as we met them, we would chat. Through that process of getting to know each other, Rose and I developed this game, which is essentially the show. The mothers and daughters have the opportunity to ask each other questions that they’ve always wanted to ask but never had the chance.
SW: Tell me about that.
RJ: The show is kind of in three parts. At first, the audience comes in and meets the mothers and daughters. Then the performers, who are not actors, play the game and ask the questions. The part we really feel is the show, is that everyone gets together and has a big meal afterwards. We all eat food, have conversations, ask more questions and it’s all very informal. For me, what was so lovely, is that that was how stories were told when we were growing up. At the dinner table. That was the original theatre, people told stories while you ate.
SW: So, you’ve said the performers aren’t actors. How did it work to find the women for the show? Were there auditions?
RJ: We worked with a partner, Audrey Finkelstein, who is very connected in the Yiddish Theatre community. She reached out to her network and gathered people. Then Rose and I would meet them for coffee and basically interview them. The interview was an opportunity to get to know you, to see if you were willing to play. We get together as a group and prepare them to play this game. Sometimes we meet the full group, sometimes just mothers, and sometimes just daughters. We say they’re not actors…some of them were involved in the theatre community, but their daughters weren’t. Part of the process for us is to really encourage them to not perform, to find a way to share the honesty in the room while you’re being watched.
SW: Which is very brave…
RJ: It’s super brave, and very generous. Throughout the entire process we empower the participants to always be in control. If they’re going to give us their time and be generous with their stories, they absolutely have to be in charge of them. All the participants have the right to ask or not to ask a question or give an answer. Sometimes the show is longer some nights, and sometimes it’s shorter. Sometimes it’s funnier, sometimes there are more tears than other nights. You really can’t predict what it’s going to be, which is exciting.
Featuring a different combination of mothers and daughters each night, you could go see them all and never experience the same show. Regardless of who or how old you are, there’s a place for you at the table.
Click here for tickets. Many of the shows are bilingual.
Like Mother, Like Daughter at Espace Libre (1945 rue Fullum). February 3-10. 7 p.m. $19-32. For mother-daughter pairs $50.