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Burnaby playwright tackles queer motherhood conundrum in comedy

'Unexpecting' explores queer marriage, friendship, and modern motherhood.
'Unexpecting,' by Burnaby-based playwright Bronwyn Carradine, aims to tug at heartstrings through realistic comedy.

Society has long reinforced the idea that identity for women is yoked to motherhood.

But what about women who reject that role? Unexpecting, a female-led comedy by Burnaby playwright Bronwyn Carradine, takes a look at the question,

At the heart of it, Unexpecting explores modern motherhood and found families while celebrating queer relationships and friendships. It's a story that its author hopes will move anyone who has struggled with a decision to become a parent. But the work is also an opportunity for Carradine to explore the idea of rejecting the role of motherhood.

“I wanted to really explore and talk about is the fact that not all women want to be mothers," she said in a conversation with the NOW. “And that it's perfectly fine for someone to choose not to raise a child that they're pregnant with. A big part of that and going against the stigma that exists for pregnant mothers putting up their child for adoption.”

Through Sawyer, a pregnant 24-year-old academic yearning for a place in law school, and  a queer couple going through “hell and back” to become mothers and raise a baby, the playwright explores contrasting personalities and societal expectations.

“Throughout the show, [Sawyer] finds power in realizing that it's OK that she doesn't want to be a mother. And that there are two people there, waiting to raise the child.”

Carradine said the play was conceived from her own experience of being in a queer relationship and trying to create a family.

“I didn't see a lot of comedies and positive shows about queer families,” she said. “I find quite often that queer characters are either struggling with their identity or homophobia. Those things definitely exist, but I thought it was also important for me to show queer joy and the positive sides: adoption and creating a family, finding and creating your own found family. So, [the play] is like a love letter to my own life and the place where I am right now."

Carradine began writing the play in early 2019 through the Arts Club’s Emerging Playwright program with the hope of having positive queer representation on stage. It was presented as an audio play first in February 2021.

The live-audience world premiere of Unexpecting, directed by Zee Zee Theatre’s artistic and executive director, Cameron Mackenzie, will be presented at Studio 16 in Vancouver from May 8 to 21.

“I hope people can come, laugh and feel,” Carradine said. “I hope people feel connected to the characters in the story. I think for queer audiences, I really want people to feel seen and feel appreciated. And then for folks who are allies, I want them to gain a bit of understanding about what it takes for some people to create their families.”

“It was also an opportunity to put four very diverse, exciting and complicated women on stage…. I think that in itself, makes a statement.”

In honour of Zee Zee Theatre’s 15th anniversary season, the company is offering an accessible pricing option — 15 tickets to each performance of Unexpecting will have  $15 reduced barrier tickets. For tickets and more information, visit website.


When: May 5 to 21; May 5 preview and May 6 opening

           Wednesdays to Saturdays; 8 p.m.

           Saturdays and Sundays; 2 p.m.

Where: Studio 16 (1551 West 7th Ave, Vancouver)

Cost: $34 (Regular);

         $24 (Student/Senior/Arts Worker);

         $15 (Reduced Barrier Tickets)