BOX OFFICE 610.644.3500

My Mother Has 4 Noses

By Jonatha Brooke

Directed by Jeremy B. Cohen
Produced by Patrick Rains
Associate Producer, Pam Carter

June 16-June 28, 2015

Leonard C. Haas Stage

Acclaimed singer/songwriter Jonatha Brooke “rocks it” (The New Yorker) in this touching mother-daughter love story. Brooke shares her experience caring for her eccentric and ailing mother, weaving 10 new songs through stories of their final two years together. Don’t miss this one-woman play The New York Times raves is “poignantly funny, beautifully created.”

"An affectionate, well-crafted, surprisingly funny new musical." (New York Post)

"Immensely relatable. Gorgeously arranged." (TIME OUT/Critic's Pick)

Tickets start at $27. Premium tickets can be purchased for $65 (weekday) and $75 (weekend) and include priority seating and a signed CD of My Mother Has 4 Noses.

Approximate run time is 1 hour and 45 minutes, with one 15 minute intermission. This show is best enjoyed by ages 14 and up. Join us for a talkback after every performance (beginning 6/18) with Jonatha Brooke and special guests.

Special Pre-show Community Conversations

Join us for two free conversations about inter-generational caregiving inspired by the themes of this production and How to Write a New Book for the Bible. Producing Director Zak Berkman will facilitate these gatherings with area experts from 6:15 – 7:15pm on Saturday June 20 (cancer care), and June 27 (dementia and Alzheimer’s care). Reservations can be made online or by calling the Box Office.

Saturday, June 20 (Cancer Care)
6:15 - 7:15pm, Haas Upper Lobby | Reserve Tickets
Panelists:
- Rev. Diane A. Burkland, a member of the spiritual care team at Paoli Hospital
- Ira Cantor, MD, Medical Director of Steiner Medical and Therapeutic Center
- Cynthia Wagner, MSN, CRNP, ACHPN, CHPCA, System Director Palliative Care, Main Line Health System

Saturday, June 27 (Memory Loss)
6:15 - 7:15pm, Haas Upper Lobby | Reserve Tickets
Panelists:
- Felicia Greenfield, Associate Director of Clinical and Research Opportunities, Penn Memory Center
- Jason Karlawish, MD, Professor of Medicine, Medical Ethics and Health Policy, University of Pennsylvania
- Patricia Robbins, Author of In the Morning Light, caregiver, local resident

Dinner & A Show Packages
Enjoy a prix fixe dinner and a show package for $73 (Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday matinee, Sunday evening) and $82 (Friday, Saturday evening, Sunday matinee) at The Farmhouse Bistro prior to the Wed-Sun evening performances. That's a savings of up to 15% off the single ticket price! Call 610.644.3500 or order online. View the menu here. (Please note that the menu is shared with our other June production, How to Write a New Book for the Bible.)




Presented by People's Light, WXPN, and World Cafe Live.



Explore MY MOTHER HAS 4 NOSES


JUMP TO:
THE STORY
THE WRITER & PERFORMER
THE PRODUCTION
FOR MORE INFO



THE STORY

In My Mother Has 4 Noses, Jonatha Brooke chronicles her experiences caring for her mother during the final two years of her life. Quite the character, Jonatha's mother was a published poet, a clown, and a Christian Scientist. She also had dementia . . . as well as 4 noses. At heart, the piece is a love story, buoyed by Brooke's mother's unflagging sense of humor: "After all, how many people do you know who can say they have 4 noses!" she would often quip.

Jonatha began writing about her mom in a popular blog on her website. Slowly, her stories and songs grew into a full musical play. After successful readings in New York, Los Angeles, at City Theatre in Pittsburgh, and Lookingglass Theater in Chicago, My Mother Has 4 Noses debuted at the Warner Theatre in Connecticut in June 2013. Sold-out shows at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, and The Playwright's Centre and The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis soon followed. In February 2014, MMH4N opened its critically acclaimed 10-week run Off-Broadway at the Duke on 42nd St.

My Mother Has 4 Noses became much more than a theatrical experience during its New York run. Brooke led talkback sessions with leading minds in the dementia, caregiving and research worlds. Guests included writer and filmmaker David Shenk, author of The Forgetting: Alzheimer's, Portrait of an Epidemic, the inspiration for the Emmy Award-winning PBS documentary of the same name; neurologist Dr. Gayatri Devi, head of the New York Memory and Healthy Aging Center; Dr. Jason Karlawish, Professor of Medicine, Medical Ethics, and Health Policy at UPENN; Charles Fuschillo, the CEO of the Alzheimer's Foundation of America; and Geriatric Specialist Dr. Anthony Lechich, Medical Director of Terence Cardinal Cooke Medical Center in NYC.

Brooke stayed long after each performance to allow the audience to share their stories with her. She says, "It's deeply rewarding to me that people get the funny in the midst of the chaos. I want to give the audience permission to laugh at the really tough stuff, and to TALK about it. These are important conversations. One audience member insisted: "Anybody who's ever had a mother needs to see this play!"



THE WRITER & PERFORMER

Jonatha Brooke has been writing songs, making records and touring since the early 90's. After four major label releases: Grace in Gravity, The Angel in the House, Plumb, and Ten Cent Wings, Brooke started her own independent label, Bad Dog Records in 1999, and has since released seven more albums. Among them, Steady Pull's "Linger" was a top five triple-A radio song in 2001; the critically acclaimed The Works, released in 2008, combined previously unheard, unpublished Woody Guthrie lyrics with Brooke's own music and arrangements; My Mother has 4 Noses, released to its own critical acclaim as the show opened Off-Broadway, is fully orchestrated versions of the songs from the play. Ms. Brooke has also written for four Disney films, has had songs included in many television shows, and composed and sang the theme song for Joss Whedon's “Dollhouse.” She has recently co-written songs with Katy Perry and The Courtyard Hounds for their current releases. Brooke has four other musicals in development: Quadroon, with legendary jazz pianist Joe Sample; Hopper and Death and Venice, both with playwright Anton Dudley; and an as yet untitled piece with Geoffrey Nauffts.



THE PRODUCTION

How Jonatha Came to People’s Light

In August 2013, Honorary Trustee Hal Real and Company Member David Bradley invited senior staff at People’s Light to come to World Café Live to see Jonatha Brooke perform a prior incarnation of My Mother Has Four Noses. Producing Director Zak Berkman had been a fan of Jonatha’s music since her early days, having grown up in Amherst, Massachusetts where she went to college and wrote her first song (based on E.E. Cummings’ poem “Love Is More Thicker Than Forget”). So Zak replied to Hal and David with an immediate yes. It wasn’t purely personal, however, as People’s Light was discussing ways to include more music in upcoming seasons, and were curious to learn what Jonatha was creating.

Zak wrote, “In all honesty, I didn’t have a category for what I saw from the mezzanine at World Cafe Live that night. I recognized a beautiful song cycle infused with Jonatha’s signature intelligence, honesty, and humor. I experienced a deeply personal story that was healing and hopeful, while also raw and unsettling. But in that concert setting I wasn’t certain how it might live at People’s Light.”

The Theatre soon learned Jonatha would collaborate with director Jeremy Cohen for a workshop of Four Noses at The Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. Zak’s connections again became important, because he had known Jeremy since childhood, had gone to college with him and collaborated with him for years. Not long after the workshop, Zak visited Jeremy at The Playwrights Center where Jeremy serves as Artistic Director. As the two men drove in Jeremy’s car, Katy Perry performed Jonatha’s “Choose Your Battles” on the radio while Jeremy shared his faith in the power of Four Noses. Zak promised to see the Off-Broadway premiere.

Jeremy Cohen; Jonatha in performanceJeremy Cohen; Jonatha in performance

Zak vividly remembers that performance. “At a matinee at The Duke Theatre on 42nd Street, a young man and woman sat in front of me. He clearly was there for her and mocked the production’s distribution of free packets of Kleenex. At intermission he reluctantly admitted he ‘liked some of it’. During the second act, however, he became overwhelmed with emotion and gripped the woman’s hand for the rest of the performance. This couple, along with a hundred others, stayed for a talk-back with Jonatha where many shared their experiences taking care of ill loved ones. It was the kind of event I could imagine at People’s Light as it shared qualities with our Community Matters series, in which powerful art serves as a catalyst for conversations about vital community issues. It was evident Jonatha’s unique hybrid of theatrical memoir, concept concert, and communal campfire could be an elevated version of Community Matters.”

The idea for a limited engagement run emerged. Two years later, People’s Light welcomes Jonatha and My Mother Has Four Noses to Malvern, presented in partnership with WXPN and World Cafe Live.

A Teaser from the Show

Two Interviews with Jonatha

From NBC 4 New York, Monday March 17, 2014
In the Wings
Q&A: Jonatha Brooke on "4 Noses," a Tribute to her Mom
By Robert Kahn

Musician Jonatha Brooke has written a new play that chronicles her mother’s descent into dementia. “My Mother Has 4 Noses” opened Off-Broadway last month, a little more than two years after the death of the singer-songwriter’s mom, Darren Stone Nelson, who in various guises was a circus clown, a published poet and a committed Christian Scientist—a fact that strained their relationship as her illness worsened.

Brooke sat down with NBC 4 New York at The Duke on 42nd Street to talk about her mother, and the process of putting together a play about such a non-traditional subject.

Most of the songs included in “4 Noses” have just been released on a 12-track record.

NBC4NY: Let’s start by explaining that mysterious title.
JONATHA BROOKE: I called it “My Mother Has 4 Noses” because my mother actually did have four noses. She was a clown, so she did have her clown nose. But she also had skin cancer, and that led to some surgery, which led to a prosthetic nose. And of course, when they make you one, they have to make you four, because there are four seasons, and perhaps in the summer you might get more freckled. As mom succumbed to dementia, she got funnier and funnier, especially about the noses. She would lose them. Or hide them. And the daily drama with her caregivers was: “Whatever you do, don’t lose the noses! If you can’t find them, check the wastebaskets!”
NBC4NY: “4 Noses” gets irreverent. I appreciated the story about what happened after your mom decided flushing the toilet was too expensive—she would “parcel out the flushes.”
JB: Right before mom died, this crazy stuff happened that couldn’t have been funnier, and that little brain of mine splits into pieces and can see the funny in this bizarrely tragic moment.
NBC4NY: What else did she do that caught you off guard?
JB: She loved my husband, Pat, and she would always hug him. And there was this one really demented moment where she pulled away from Pat and started squeezing him. And she said: “Golly, you are built. Now, did I have you first, or did this one here?” Some kids would’ve been creeped out, but we thought it was the funniest thing in the world, because she was such a flirt.
NBC4NY: Did you sit down to write a play about dementia, or were you writing songs as your mother’s illness progressed, and at some point you realized there was this thread?
JB: I had the songs “The Wind” and “My Misery.” I was writing them right before mom moved (from Boston to Brooke’s apartment building in New York), while there was this sense of impending crisis. “The Wind” is a very intense examination of dementia: “The wind blows right through you/You’re hollow as a shell.” Mom was disappearing, and the idea of writing about it and turning it into something happened fast on the heels of those two songs.
NBC4NY: I loved a story you tell about being invited to a songwriter’s conference in Malibu in the autumn of 2011, toward the end of your mom’s life.
JB: These world class songwriters were flying in from all over the world, and even my mother rallied and said: “You really should do this, Boolie”—that was her nickname for me—“It’s important to care for yourself.” So I went, and they must have thought I was crazy, because I was alternately crying and laughing hysterically. And we’re writing these crazy pop songs about sex and breaking up, and hoping to pitch them to Britney Spears or Miley Cyrus or Katy Perry, and yet my mother's dying across the country in New York, so my brain is this frazzled piñata.
NBC4NY: While you were there, you found a kalimba and started writing. You knew what it was?
JB: Yes, because there’s a kalimba on my very first record. I’m sitting at the kitchen table at midnight, and I started playing this little thumb piano, and this song appears out of nowhere. And of course, I’m crying as I’m writing it, and I’m just trying to get it down. It’s called “Time.” And it’s weird, because as I was writing this song, I was envisioning its place in the play.
NBC4NY: You were working in a studio in the home of Richard Page, the lead singer of the ’80s band Mr. Mister. So presumably this was an instrument he owned?
JB: Yeah. And I didn’t take it with me when I went home, because he wasn’t there to ask. But this song haunted me, and I got home and I went straight back into “crisis” mode, and I ended up e-mailing him and saying: “I wrote this song while I was in your studio, and it’s really depending on that kalimba you have. Is there any way I can buy it from you?” And he wrote back and said: “Well, why don’t I just loan it to you.” So now I’ve used it on two other songs, including one (“Choose Your Battles”) I wrote with Katy Perry that’s on her new album.
NBC4NY: But you’ve got to get the kalimba back to him at some point?
JB: I do! I’ve e-mailed him. But he hasn’t responded. So I’m assuming he’s not missing it.
NBC4NY: You toured several cities with “4 Noses” before bringing it to New York. Has there been a common thread in the feedback from theatergoers?
JB: The best comment is just: “What a tribute to your mother.” I’m telling a complicated story, and I want that current of unconditional love between us to be what people walk away with. There’s so much other stuff that happens, I wondered: Are people going to be offended by the sarcastic elements here and there? But a lot of them tell me: “I’ve got to go call my mother.” Which, you know, is just wicked sweet.


Jonatha sat down with Jason Karlawish, MD, to talk about My Mother Has Four Noses. Dr. Karlawish is the Director of the Penn Neurodegenerative Disease Ethics and Policy Program, and Associate Director of the Penn Memory Center, the Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center at the University of Pennsylvania. He’s also one of the key organizers of makingsenseofalzheimers.org, a “creative space for people to understand the past, present and future of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Click here to watch the video interview.



FOR MORE INFO

Visit Jonatha’s website at jonathabrooke.com

Or her production website at 4noses.org

Return to Production Page