Tawawert is an Egyptian mother goddess and wet nurse, the protector of pregnant women and goddess of childbirth. She has the head and body of a hippo, the tail of a crocodile, and the hands and feet of a lion. She was described as “frightful and grotesque” and usually carried a knife. She is “She of the pure water” and the “Lady of Heaven”. She is the gentle protector, and will take no excuses.

Of her play about Tawawert, Erin Panttaja writes: “Birth is primal. It is touching and hilarious and dangerous and one of the most purely animal experiences that we still go through in this age of concrete and cell phones. It is the first thing each of us did in our lives. I have twin daughters. When I was pregnant with them, Tawawert was an image that came to me again and again. I love her place as a household goddess. I love her juxtaposition of the mundanity of pregnancy and childbirth with the weightiness of life and death. I also love her physicality: the hippopotamus is ponderous and unwieldily, and yet hippos kill 500 people a year, and are one of the most dangerous animal threats to human beings.”

TAWAWERT by Erin Marie Panttaja
Directed by Nicole Meñez
Staged Reading on October 6, 2017 at the EXIT Theatre

Pamela Drummer-Williams (Tawawert)

Morgan LeClaire (Doula)

Dillon Siedentopf (Partner)

Brittany Sims (Woman)

Erin Marie Panttaja is a Bay Area playwright and member of PlayGround. She was a recipient of a Planet Earth New Play Festival commission based on her 2015 Best of PlayGround, Preapocalyptica. It went on to have several readings around the Bay Area and to be a semifinalist for the O’Neill in 2016 and BETC Generations 2017. Rossum’s Universal Truckers and A Different Way To Tell Him I Love You appeared in PlayGround last year. She has a degree from MIT and has worked with robotics, voice systems, and video games. Her other works have been produced in California and Ireland.

The image of Tawawert was created by Cody A. Rishell.