On Wednesday, April 29, one of the last plays of this year’s Theater Season – “‘night, Mother” – took place. Students, professors and staff were welcomed to ABF Theater to witness the play written by Marsha Norman and decide for themselves whether it deserves a Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
The story of “‘night, Mother” revolves around the family drama of Mama (Ana Milkova) and her daughter Jessie (Ayna Pirkuliyeva), who live together in a small house on an isolated country road. Jessie is an epileptic who has experienced seizures most of her life. She has been divorced, has failed to find a job and generally has lived a miserable life. Her mother, a widowed woman, who doesn’t seem to see the despair of her daughter, does not make her life any easier. She lets Jessie live in a house with her and take care of all aspects of her life.
Jessie’s situation doesn’t seem bright, but it’s much worse than anyone might have expected. As the play begins Jessie asks for her late father’s service revolver, while simultaneously looking for the bullets. When Mama insists on telling her what does her daughter need it for, Jessie calmly announces that she intends to kill herself. Her mother doesn’t take her seriously for the longest time, but as Jessie persistently keeps tidying up the house and makes lists of things to be taken care of, her mother begins to sense the desperate helplessness of her daughter.
At first Mama tries to cheer Jessie up by offering to stop exploiting Jessie around the house and even buying her a dog. As the time goes by, she understands that the only thing she can do is stand by, doubting and helpless, as Jessie quietly closes and locks her bedroom door and ends her neverending unhappiness by shooting herself in the head.
This performance was the last time the audience got to see Ayna Pirkuliyeva and Ana Milkova – the acting duo known as “The Wives'” – on stage together. According to Pirkuliyeva, who played Jessie, they wanted their last performance to be a powerful play with two female characters. “‘night, Mother” was suggested to them by Nedyalko Delchev and seemed perfect. “We did another comedy this semester, so we wanted this play to be different, that’s why drama sounded perfect,” she said.
Ana Milkova felt that AUBG needs to see deep and meaningful plays every theater season. “I had some miniature doubts about “‘night, Mother” initially because it is such a powerful play on such a heavy, depressing subject,” she said. “I wasn’t entirely sure that I wanted to spend my last semester immersed in the atmosphere of it, but the amazingness of the play itself overpowered me.”
This project was exceptionally challenging for both actresses. Ayna admitted that it was the most challenging play out of all she has ever done.“It was hard to learn the lines and manage my time, because I did three plays this semester,” she said. “But I loved it, because the more difficult something is, the better it feels when you master it.”
However, that doesn’t discourage her from continuing to perform in the theater. “I believe this is not the end of my theater carrier. I will definitely try to join some amateur theater groups in the future, wherever I go,” Ayna shared.
Her colleague completely agreed with her. “My theater experience at AUBG for me is everything,” said Ana. “It was the most rewarding experience one can have at the university, in terms of development of self, gaining a wide perspective on life and human psyche, and in terms of time well spent.”