The Worst Mother in the World

The Worst Mother in the World

Enjoy this audio recording by Ashland New Plays Festival. You can also listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

New mom Nina has a healthy baby boy, a loving husband… and is struggling with terrifying nightmares and anxiety attacks. Her therapist, Bonnie, is trying to help her discover how she can be a better mother to her infant son. In the meantime, Bonnie’s estranged daughter, Mary, arrives home with some life-changing news. When Nina and Mary become friends, Bonnie’s professional and personal lives get a lot more complicated.

Playwright Perspective

I started The Worst Mother in the World when I was in grad school, although I didn’t realize it at the time.

We had been given a prompt in our last semester–a time I very much did not feel like writing–and I brought in a scene where a new mother confesses to her therapist that she doesn’t love her child. I had just been reading an article about a mother who wished she hadn’t become one, and it was stuck in my head. The summer after I graduated, Tina Howe took my classmates and me to the Whitney Museum, and it was there I saw “Diver” by Andreas Feninger, the photograph that served as a visual springboard for the dream sequences in the play. There was something about that image that haunted me and gave me the framework for Nina’s inner life as I wrote the piece.

This was the first full-length play I wrote after grad school, and it came fairly quickly. Motherhood and pregnancy are fascinating to me on a physical and psychological level. While I have no plans to have children of my own, I find that–like much of what I write about–I am drawn to things that scare me. Women so often face harsh consequences for behaving in ways counter to what is expected by society, and this play is meant to illustrate that. I was committed to having only female characters; I wanted to write a uniquely female perspective, something that is under-represented on our stages.


Bonnie Erica Sullivan
Nina Tamra Mathias
Mary Marie-Claire Erdynast
Stage directions Eric Poppick


America, in the present

Poster art by: junce

Genre: ,

Play Length: 1:23:45

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Playwright Image

Kari Bentley-Quinn lives in New York City, originally from the little coast town of Stratford, CT. Her plays have been presented at or developed with Lark Play Development Center, Lesser America, The Brick Theater, The Secret Theatre, The One Minute Play Festival, Pace University, Caps Lock Theater, Effable Arts, NYMadness, Team Awesome Robot, Packawallop Productions, Artemisia Theater, and more.

Kari’s full length plays include The Permanent Night (2008 FringeNYC award winner); Paper Cranes (Backstage Critic’s Pick); The Unlikely Ascent of Sybil Stevens (Bay Area Playwrights Festival Finalist); The Ocean Thought Nothing (2014 O’Neill Conference Finalist); Prepared (Kilroy’s List Honorable Mention); The Worst Mother in The World (Leah Ryan FEWW Prize Finalist); and Wendy and the Neckbeards (The Relentless Award Honorable Mention).

Kari is a co-founder of Mission to (dit)Mars, a theater company based in Queens, New York City. As part of the company, Kari is a leader of the Propulsion Lab, a bi-weekly writers group that supports emerging playwrights, as well as the Launch Pad Reading Series, which gives plays written in the lab their first public readings. Alongside her fellow co-founders, Kari has facilitated the development of more than 30 new plays, many of which have been produced all over the country as well as internationally.

Kari has been a finalist for the O’Neill Playwrights Conference, the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Leah Ryan FEWW Prize, The Playwrights Realm, and the Public Theater Emerging Writers Group, and was a nominee for the Doric Wilson Playwriting Award. Kari was the winner of the Rita and Burton Goldberg Award at Hunter College, where she got her MFA under Tina Howe, Mark Bly, and Arthur Kopit.

Marie-Claire Erdynast
Marie-Claire Erdynast
Tamra Mathias
Tamra Mathias
Eric Poppick Play4Keeps
Eric Poppick
Sullivan Erica
Erica Sullivan

The play was a finalist for Ashland New Plays Festival, the Leah Ryan FEWW Prize, the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, and the Artemisia Fall Festival. It was also a semi finalist for the Princess Grace Award and the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference.

World premiere: Halcyon Theatre in Chicago, March 24 through early May, 2019

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