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      8 Ways my Mother was Conceived returns

      May. 23, 2012

      Montreal writer and actress Michaela Di Cesare always knew she wanted to tell the story of her mother’s conception. She grew up hearing the incredible tale of how her grandmother got pregnant without ever being with a man. A miracle celebrated and enforced by the storytellers in her family.

      Then a few years ago, a personal event would change all that. Di Cesare’s first love broke up with her two weeks after proposing marriage. Her family did not react well, and complained how today’s young people were reckless and improper, unlike the older generation. But Di Cesare knew better. And she finally had an outlet for her story.

      In just a couple of days she would write 65 pages of her autobiographical one-woman play, 8 Ways my Mother was Conceived.

      The play centers on a young Italian-Canadian woman (Di Cesare) who goes through a breakup. As her life begins to veer off script, the young protagonist goes on a quest to discover the truth behind her mother’s legendary conception.

      8 Ways my Mother was Conceived made its Montreal premiere at last year’s St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival. The play received rave reviews, got Di Cesare on the cover of the Montreal Mirror, and a 2011 MECCA award for Best Text.

      Now, a new bolder and edgier version of the play will make its premiere this week at the Rialto Theatre in Montreal’s Mileend.

      The new version of 8 Ways came about for two reasons – an award grant… and a brand new wedding ring on Di Cesare’s finger.

      “When I was wrapping up my Master’s degree at the University of Toronto, the school’s Arts Council announced applications for an award called the Launchpad Award for Emerging Artists. It is an award meant to steer a student project toward competing on a professional level that would otherwise be impossible due to financial constraints. I had already performed the play in Toronto when I applied for the award, so that version of the play couldn’t really use the money. In fact, I was already halfway through the Montreal Fringe rehearsals when I found out I won the award, so I really couldn’t put the money to use just yet in restructuring the show. That’s pretty much how this new version came around. I knew that because of external factors, the show wasn’t at the place I wanted it to be just yet, so I assembled a fantastic creative team to support me and here we are,” Di Cesare explains.

      “The script has changed drastically in the last year thanks to dramaturgical support from Playwright’s Workshop Montreal, specifically their Artistic Director Emma Tibaldo. She really understood me. After all, she’s an Italian woman from St-Michel! She pushed me to be more honest and we found the one thing that was holding my script back: I had been indicting people in my community for not being honest about sex, but I wasn’t being honest and true to my own thoughts on sex,” she continues.

      “Sex. Some people won’t understand this – but it is a ‘thing’ in our culture. You know, you have to sit pretty and pretend you’re the Virgin Mary if you’re not married but if you are, you can talk about it all you want. So being married is my free pass among my people. Plus, now I’m my husband’s responsibility and not my parents’ any more. He gives me permission to be much more daring. I’m kidding!”

      “In all seriousness, the weird thing with this play is that it’s this vortex of art-imitating-life-imitating-art. My life kept giving me everything I needed at the right moment for this show. Getting married to this fantastic man who completes me in every way was a happy ending I couldn’t even make up if I tried. (I know, cheesy. I hate myself a little bit too).”

      8 Ways my Mother was Conceived will run from May 24to 27 at the Rialto Theatre (5723 Parc Avenue). The show previews tonight (Wednesday, May 23) at 7:30PM. Tickets cost $25.00 for regular admission and $20.00 for students. The National Congress of Italian Canadians is hosting a closing cocktail on Sunday, May 27 at 3:30PM. Show & cocktail tickets are $40.00 regular admission and $35.00 for students. To purchase tickets please call the Rialto Theatre box office at (514) 770-7773.

      To learn more about the play, please visit

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