by Desireé York
Sigrid Gilmer’s “Mama Metal” packs an emotional punch. A testimonial to a life turned upside down, Sigrid takes us on a raw, unapologetic journey full of vulnerable heartbreak, stabbing humor and cold metal fury. “Mama Metal,” presented by IAMA Theatre Company, runs May 23-June 23 at Atwater Village Theatre. LAFPI was fortunate enough to speak with this hard rock writer before opening night.
LAFPI: How did your partnership with IAMA ignite and can you share this play’s development process?
Sigrid: I wrote “Mama Metal” in 2017, when I was a member of the Humanitas’ PlayLA Writer’s Group. About six of us would meet monthly for a year to write on a new play. At the end of the process we were paired with a local theatre and I had the good fortune to team up with IAMA Theatre Company. Then I began my magnificent collaboration with director Deena Selenow and she staged a beautiful reading at Open Space Cafe on Fairfax.
LAFPI: Why did you choose to tell this intimately personal story now?
Sigrid: Five years ago my step-father died suddenly and my mom was diagnosed with Lewy-Body Dementia/Parkinson’s. I went from being a struggling – albeit carefree – artist, to being my mother’s primary caregiver. “Mama Metal” was written four years into that journey. The process of watching my mother decline, called anticipatory grief – thank you therapy – was disorienting. My emotions were constantly shifting – sadness, rage, confusion, guilt. Memories were assaultive and relentless. Everything was surreal, overwhelming and terribly funny. What makes you laugh will make you cry, right? That openness, when we laugh or cry feels like the same emotional neighborhood and I was living in that raw, emotionally naked terrane. I wrote the play to navigate, sort and understand that landscape.
LAFPI: Why heavy metal? How were you introduced to it and how does/did this style of music speak to you?
Sigrid: I like metal for its naked aggression, rhythm and rage: that’s what I feel like on the inside. I think my attraction to metal started when I was about 7 or 8. I had a babysitter who constantly played rock – Journey, ELO, Styx, the Eagles, The Stones, The Beatles, Queen, Kiss, etc. From there it was just a slippery slope to Metallica, Sabbath, and Maiden. I like any music that rages against the machine. Metal also has a strong theatrical element; it is over the top, deeply orchestral and complicated. Different melodies and rhythms running throughout them all coalescing into this magnificent tapestry of sound.
LAFPI: What advice do you have for your fellow women playwrights, advocating for their voices to be heard onstage?
Sigrid: Write plays. Then write more. Send your work everywhere. Say yes to gigs. Get your plays up, by any means necessary. Self-produce. Find your artistic tribe. Write and write and write. Develop your own voice and view of the world until it screams. Until it is undeniable. Nurture your desires and idiosyncrasies. Create your own space. Write. Write. Write.
For tickets and more info about “Mama Metal,” visit iamatheatre.com