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Why Paula Vogel could only have written ‘Mother Play’ right now

The playwright sheds light on penning the Tony Award-nominated drama about her own family.

“There is a season for packing. And a season for unpacking,” says the character Martha in the opening scene of Paula Vogel’s “Mother Play.” Indeed. 

With “Mother Play,” Vogel unpacks her own story: her childhood, her fraught relationship with her mother and her profound bond with her brother. And Vogel said she could not have written this play any earlier in her life. “I could only write this play in my 70s,” Vogel told Broadway News. “It took that long to be able to talk about my brother in the past tense.” There is a season for unpacking.

Vogel previously explored her relationship with her brother, Carl — in her 1992 play “The Baltimore Waltz.” But “Mother Play” drives to the soul of it. Martha (played by 2024 Tony Award nominee Celia Keenan-Bolger) is a version of Vogel. Martha’s brother, Carl (2024 Tony nominee Jim Parsons), and mother, Phyllis (2024 Tony nominee Jessica Lange), are Vogel’s brother and mother, respectively (without name changes). “Mother Play: A Play in Five Evictions” follows the family as they move from apartment to apartment, beginning when Martha is 11 and Carl is 13. 

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