The reality of a reunion with a birth parent is not as clear cut and euphoric as many a television show or film would have audiences believe. Karen Bartholomew’s spare and gutsy new play Giving Up Marty tells a more realistic tale when it comes to VAULT Festival later this year. Book your tickets now.
The Motormouse Productions show, which takes no prisoners in its depiction of this momentous event, runs from 10 to 12 March at The Vaults.
“Don’t you want to find your birth mother?”
“It’s history, what’s the point of raking up the past?”
But what if the past comes to you?
Until now he’s just known Mum, Dad and his sister. Life is safe, settled and secure. Yes, he’s been curious about his origins but no more than that. As he turns eighteen, much to everyone’s surprise, it’s Martha, his birth mother and Melissa, his birth sister who come looking for him. The events that follow, leave Joel embroiled in a family history, that changes his life and identity forever.
There’s long been a fascination with blood ties and those broken, reunited and reshaped. Adoption reunion is epic and complex in nature and never easy, but it’s this unease that needs to be heard.
Bartholomew decided to write Giving Up Marty after becoming disillusioned with the portrayal of the experience of adopted people in other stories. While reunions are epic moments, their effect is far more complex than is often shown and they rarely lead to a Disney-like ‘happily ever after’.
In creating the piece, Bartholomew is supported by with the UK’s oldest children’s charity, Coram, which has been helping vulnerable children since 1739. The organisation works with more than a million children, young people, professionals and families each year in areas including adoption, children’s rights, education and more.
Watch the Giving up Marty trailer
While drawing attention to a very serious subject, Bartholomew has taken the approach favoured by all Motormouse Productions’ shows, finding the light and injecting humour where possible. Bartholomew has previously written Raise The Spirit, Mum & Dad to be… and Maybe God is Michael for Motormouse, and worked with the BBC, Paines Plough, Making Waves and Bootleg Theatre.
Though the VAULT Festival season marks the premiere of Giving Up Marty, the piece has received workshops and rehearsed readings at Coram, Paines Plough and Soho Theatre, where responses included, “This important piece of theatre! It truly represents a ‘slice of life’ that often is not presented or explored,” and, “You don’t often see this stuff on stage/film/tv that deals with so many sides of the adoption story.”
Giving up Marty has also received funding support from Arts Council England.
VAULT Festival runs from 28 January to 22 March 2020, featuring an eclectic array of productions, including one-woman show The Journey of a Warlike Mind, immersive gaming experience Jekyll/Hyde, one-man tale of a child soldier Far Gone, circus show Cara Vita: A Clown Concerto and The Ballerina, in which Charlie and the Chocolate Factory meets Heart of Darkness.
About Motormouse Productions
Motormouse Productions is a female-led company based in south east England. They tackle challenging topics with a political, social and cultural flavour, always injecting humour where it counts. Their work seeks to engage and benefit local communities wherever possible. They have toured and performed in new writing festivals, London fringe and regional theatres. In 2017, when staging God’s Waiting Room about two sisters dealing with their mother’s impending death, they connected with hospices, death cafes and the NHS, who went on to commission performances and bespoke theatre for their end-of-life services. Their work has been supported by Arts Council England, Unity Theatre Trust, Kent Arts Investment Award & the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation.