Ginna Hoben knew that having her first baby at 40 was going to be an adventure.
What she didn’t know was that her humorous account of her experience in her blog would morph into a one-woman show before her new baby was out of diapers.
Hoben, a New York-based actor and writer, will perform her 75-minute comedy, No Spring Chicken, this weekend at Transylvania University. Produced by Project SEE Theatre, the show represents a burgeoning collaborative effort between Project SEE and Transy to offer professional residencies for visiting theater artists.
“My husband and I were trying to get pregnant for about four years into our marriage, and it just wasn’t happening,” says Hoben, who married at 36. “I was getting more and more nervous about our success rate.”
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Hoben and her husband decided to undergo intrauterine insemination treatment, and to everyone’s surprise, it worked on the first try.
Hoben decided to record her experience of pregnancy at an “advanced maternal age” on a blog, but she didn’t get started until 16 to 18 weeks into her pregnancy because of severe morning sickness that plagued her early pregnancy.
When she finally did get to dive into the blog, she discovered that her message, and especially its humor, resonated with women her age.
“The women my age were really into it,” she says. “People were sending it to their husbands and their best friends.”
In the meantime, Hoben was commissioned by NextStop Theatre Company to create a one-woman show based on her experience.
The show debuted in Washington, D.C., at the Women’s Voices Theater Festival in 2015, thanks to a commission by NextStop Theatre Company, and it was well received by critics.
The Washington Post’s Jane Horowitz called it “a funny, surprisingly raw show.” Caroline Simpson, of DC Metro Theatre Art, described Hoben as “a combination of Amy Poehler, Ellen Degeneres, Tina Fey, a sprinkle of Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and, most of all, a whole lot of original energy that makes you want her to be your new best friend.”
Since then, Hoben and Sullivan White, who directs the show, have made significant revisions, including adding a second character.
“I really credit Sully with finding the heart of this play,” Hoben says.
“She really helped me to sort through the material and find the heart and where the true meaning is,” Hoben says. “I like to rely on the humor, and Sully is really good at saying yes, all that humor is great, but that humor would be heightened if we had a human being with a real yearning inside, and if you, Ginna, let us see that, the audience is going to get on board.”
This weekend is the second time Hoben’s work has been produced in Lexington. Project SEE also produced Hoben’s holiday comedy, The 12 Dates of Christmas, in 2011. That show also was directed by White, an assistant professor of theater and program director in Transy’s drama department, and a founding member of Project SEE.
“Ginna has been a colleague of mine for a really long time,” White says of working with Hoben, whom she met while directing the apprentice company at Actors Theatre of Louisville.
“Working on a new play with somebody is incredible because you really get to know and understand what’s important to the playwright, and because she is also a friend of mine, I knew how important having a baby was to her,” White says. “It’s important for people to know that they’re not alone in those types of situations.
Candace Chaney is a Lexington-based writer and critic.
If you go
‘No Spring Chicken’
What: One-woman show by Gina Hoben presented by Project SEE and Transylvania University Theatre
When: 7:30 p.m. May 19-21, 2 p.m. May 22
Where: Little Theatre, Transylvania University