What are you doing Sunday night? asked the youngest Huffman.

Relaxing, I said.

Do you want to go to see “Driven” –- her school’s theater production — with me? she asked.

I paused. To me, Sunday nights are meant for doing nothing. Plus, I’m not exactly a big live theater fan. And by “not exactly,” I mean not.

Horrible, right? Who doesn’t like theater? It’s downright un-American.

Theater lovers, actors and drama teachers: I apologize. I’m not worthy of attending a theater performance, let alone writing my very one-sided and completely uneducated thoughts about the theatre.

But, I also know that it’s not often that a 17-year-old high school senior actually asks her mother to do something with her. Between their school and jobs and friends, we moms gotta grab our mother/daughter time whenever we can.

Sure, I said. I’ll go with you.

I figured I could survive one theater show. Besides, how bad could it be?

I would sit quietly in a nice dark auditorium, preferably in a back row. If I yawned or “rested” my eyes for a minute or five, no one would see.

No one would notice if I wasn’t quite as appreciative as the Authentic Theater People. When it was over, I would clap heartily.

Arriving at the school that night, we noticed big lights illuminating the school parking lot which was filled with about 20 vehicles parked in four rows.

That must be the lanes, our daughter said.

The what?

The LANES of cars, she said in a “duh” kind of voice. That’s where the play takes place.

WHAT?! We sit in cars and watch a play? What the heck? What have you gotten me into?

“Mom, do you not know what this is???” she said exasperatedly.

Of course I don’t know. And at this moment, I’m not sure I want to.

The audience is IN the cars with the actors, she explained. Each play takes 10 minutes and we go to five different cars.

You mean we’re not sitting anonymously in a nice dark theater? I didn’t really even want to go to the show and now I’m PART of the show?

What kind of crazy drama experiment is this? Was it too late to turn around?

It’s like being brought up on stage during a magic show. No one wants to be that person. Except theater people and I AM NOT THEATER PEOPLE.

The performance started with an explanation.

This is experiential theater, said the host of “Driven.”


I’m an introverted extrovert. YES THAT IS A THING. If I wanted experiential, I’d FaceTime someone.

Don’t talk to the actors, unless they talk to you, said the host.

No problem here. Lips = zipped.

When the doors are shut, the play will begin, she said. Ten minutes later, when the doors open, you move to the next car.

Wait, what if they say something funny?

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You can laugh, said a mom friend of mine, whose daughter was in the production. They won’t break character, she said. They’re professionals.

But what if they say something to ME?

Just let it happen, she said.


Don’t think too much, she added.


Next, our “car hops” escorted us to the vehicles. I quickly popped a Tic Tac in my mouth. No actor wants an audience with bad breath. I know that much about theater.

Inside our first car, our first mini play began.

And you know what?

They were hilarious.

The actors were fantastic. They embraced their parts with gusto, passion and teenage spirit.

Our set of 10-minute plays included fighting, crying, hysterics, sweet talk, a stolen kiss, someone getting thrown in a trunk, a hot “deal” and the revelation of a not-so-secret crush.

The actors mostly ignored us, which was fine by me.

After “Driven” was over, we hugged our friend’s daughter, one of the actors.

You were great, we told her.

This theater thing isn’t so bad. I might even go see another play. I might even sit… in the fifth row.

Surrendering to Motherhood appears every other Monday. Follow Jennifer on Twitter: @NVRHuffman.


Jennifer Huffman is the business editor and a general assignment reporter for the Napa Valley Register. I cover a wide variety of topics for the newspaper. I've been with the Register since 2005.