Andrea ‘Delcita’ Wright tackles parental alienation in ‘The Ex Baby Motha’
Playwright Andrea ‘Delcita’ Wright is shedding light and context on the impact of toxic step relationships on children in her current production The Ex Baby Motha.
Dubbing it her contribution to Jamaica’s diamond jubilee, the play takes a critical look at children who are separated from their parents due to distance, jealousy and disruptive family events. While the family court settles many financial arrangements for child support, many children suffer stunted, positive emotional growth which Wright explores with teen actress Kai-Alana O’Connor.
“The psychological term is called parental alienation and it can be caused by way of migration wherein one or both parents migrate and leave the child, or it can be a case where the mother is now with a different man or father is with a different woman, so that is the situation we’re facing in Ex Baby Motha,” Wright told The Gleaner.
The Ex Baby Motha, which opened on Mother’s Day last month, also stars ‘Delcita’, veteran actress Trudy Campbell-Fraser and sportscaster Dwight Fraser. Newcomers Calneth Reid and Derricka Johnson also form part of the cast, and Dreanna Williams heads technical effects.
“Trudy Campbell-Fraser is the ‘ex baby motha’ and she’s a struggling woman,” Wright shared. “She would have worked on the north coast hotel and lost her job in the pandemic so I try to make it as real as possible. It rough pan her so the man really needs to support her.”
DELIBERATE IN CASTING
In forming the cast, Wright was deliberate in getting a child to play the role, unlike the common occurrence of adults playing teen parts. O’Connor is the daughter of former media personality Lanna-Gaye Franklyn and is currently in sixth form at York Castle High School. She recruited Johnson from Maverly, St Andrew, another intentional move to “help those communities and make them feel proud that they, too, can send persons off to theatre”.
The popular comedienne, who is also a guidance counsellor, said it is her work in that field which inspired the plot.
“Our children are hurting too much and you and I know that a lot of relationships change hands and homes so a typical woman finds herself probably changing two partners and having more than one father with the children. You’re definitely gonna face a step situation and it’s hard when you have to go through a female in order to get support for your child and one of the things Delcita a talk bout in a dah show yah is we can treat it different because the man would have had the child before him meet you, so you nah fi gwaan so. Mek the man tek care of him pickney. We see that every August/September where the pickney cannot get them schoolbag, books, and so on because stepmother a seh no money nuh fi go over there [to that home].”
It’s a “Jamaica 60 reality” that she doubts will ever truly go away, but “it’s something that can be explained so it’s an eye opener for many persons when they watch the show and understand… We need to be more mature and psychologically aware of the imbalances that are caused by most step relationships because some stepmothers are very awesome”.
Though unsponsored, Wright’s production is making the rounds across Jamaica, and has already shown in Kingston and St Ann. The play is set to show at Belair High School in Mandeville today and Amarul Events, Pepper, St Elizabeth tomorrow. Negril and Savanna-La-Mar are scheduled for July 8 and 10 respectively, and the show returns to Kingston at the Courtleigh Auditorium on August 7.