Stage

Scrambled Tackles One Woman's Struggle To Conceive

Rotem Nachmany in Scrambled
Rotem Nachmany in Scrambled Photo by Avi Goleran
When Rotem Nachmany learned that endometriosis was preventing her from getting pregnant naturally and that she’d need to undergo fertility treatments, her spirit and sense of self shattered. For a year, Nachmany slipped into a deep depression, contemplating her damaged self-image as a woman.

But then, her creative side took hold.

The Israeli actor/playwright began channeling her emotions and feelings onto paper. “I started writing about what I was going through, about the terrible loneliness in this situation, and also a goodbye song for a baby who did not come,” says Nachmany. “It was clear to me that in order to process and digest this crisis that I was experiencing, I had to translate it into something artistic using the language of theater.”

Her writing turned into a one-woman play, Scrambled (directed by Maya Bitan and Maayan Dobkovsky) which Mildred's Umbrella is presenting in Houston starring Nachmany in the role she created. But, she says, while Scrambled started off being about her experience, it turned into something more universal than that.

“Once I got into the creative process, this thing became not just mine. Because it is not just therapeutic. it's bigger than that”, says Nachmany. “I saw this as an opportunity to make the voice of women like me heard and to raise awareness about fertility treatments and endometriosis.”
Rotem Nachmany in Scrambled
Photo by Eyal Hunter

The setting for Scrambled is Nachmany's washroom, a place for her of sanctuary, anticipation, and despair as she dealt with the daily hormones, the body that changes, the sex that becomes calculated and purpose-driven, and the shame surrounding it all.

“The bathroom is protection from the environment, from the world,” says Nachmany. “There I could cry and break down during a family meal or on holidays. Ironically it is a hiding place where I can stop hiding. I also spent time in the bathroom urinating on a pregnancy test stick, wishing every time to see two lines. So, it’s a place to despair and hope.”

With a background in physical theater, Nachmany also knew she wanted to incorporate movement and dance in her play as a way to express herself. Not just how she was feeling in her body, but how her body became not her own in a sense. “The same body that is mine, became a body in the hands of doctors as if the doctors invaded it and suddenly decided on it for me,” says Nachmany. “The feeling that the body has betrayed me in some sense meant it had to be a central player and an artistic tool in this story.”

For the show in Houston, Nachmany has enlisted the help of translators Maurice Rosenthal and Meir Bar-Giora so that audiences can experience the show in English. “It is a great honor for me to come to Houston with my show”, says Nachmany. “It wasn’t obvious to me that a play about female organs and fertility would be so widely embraced and receive more and more platforms, but I am proud of it and happy about it.”

Nachmany says she hopes everyone will find something to relate to in her show. Whether it’s dealing with self-image, societal expectations, or longing for something we can't achieve. “I hope the audience will meet themselves when they watch the show in addition to learning about fertility challenges."

Performances are scheduled for September 16 through 18 at The Deluxe Theater 3303 Lyons. For more information, visit mildredsumbrella.com. $10 minimum.
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Jessica Goldman was the theater critic for CBC Radio in Calgary prior to joining the Houston Press team. Her work has also appeared in American Theatre Magazine, Globe and Mail and Alberta Views. Jessica is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association.
Contact: Jessica Goldman