Jennifer Nelson on "Milk Like Sugar" at Mosiac Theater
“Washington has developed a national reputation for the diversity and the quantity of work that is done here,” says Jennifer L. Nelson, resident director of the Mosaic Theater Company, now in its sophomore season. “A lot of young people out of MFA programs…are choosing to come to Washington to start their careers instead of going directly to New York.”
The wealth of talent has allowed Nelson to cast actors capable of portraying complicated characters in a sensitive, convincing light — like those found in Kirsten Greenidge’s Milk Like Sugar. “We had to find a group of young female actors that you could believe as 15 and 16 year olds,” says Nelson. “The roles are actually very complex and would be difficult to have teenagers…play those parts.”
Loosely based on a real-life situation, Milk Like Sugar focuses on four high school girls and a pact that three take, each vowing to have a baby before the end of the school year. “They don’t see much in their possible futures as something other than becoming mothers,” Nelson says. “They realize this is a choice that they can make…. They’re not looking for anybody’s permission, they don’t need a degree or a diploma or anything.” Part of the tragedy of the story is that the girls aren’t “old enough and experienced enough…to foresee the consequences of the choice. They’re thinking of it as being kind of liberating and fun, because they have very little understanding of all of the challenges that parenting itself would bring about, and how this would affect other relationships in their lives.”
Through upcoming discussions with community leaders, Mosaic hopes to explore some of the specific issues and questions raised in Milk Like Sugar. In particular, Nelson singles out the need to better educate young people about the impact their decisions can have.
“Is there anything a school system can offer that would help young people who are struggling with some of these decisions about what to do with their lives…and what are realistic possibilities for their futures?”