Real life couple Amanda Schoonover and J Hernandez share the stage in The Motherf**ker with the Hat at Theatre Exile

Feature photo- (L to R) Scott Greer, Amanda Schoonover, J Hernandez, and Zach Valdez. By Paola Nogueras

The South Philadelphia-based Theatre Exile– in their 25th anniversary season- along with non-profit arts organization The Brothers’ Network will present The Motherf**ker with the Hat by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis. The show is running now through February 27 at the theatre’s home (1340 South 13th Street). I spoke with married cast members J Hernandez and Amanda Schoonover about their characters, the important message of this show, and what the couple loves to do together when they aren’t on stage. Tickets to the performances, as well as the theatre’s health and safety policies, are available here.

Q: Can you tell me a bit about your character in The Motherf**ker with the Hat and what is your role in the story?
JH: I play the role of Jackie, a recovering addict/drug dealer who’s trying to put his life back together after getting off a 2+ year stint in prison. The play starts about two months after he’s been free. He’s sober, he’s got a job, he’s in love… nd you’re just gonna have to see what happens after!
AS: I play the role of Victoria, the wife of Jackie’s sponsor Ralph D.  I honestly can’t tell you too much about her, or I will give away some major plot points in the play! No spoilers!

Q: What drew you to this story? Why did you want to be a part of the production?
AS: The play is gritty, heartbreaking, and hilarious. I am always drawn to work that explores the darker side of human nature, and this script is just brilliantly written.
JH: I love the playwright, Stephen Adley Guirgis. I’m a huge fan of his plays, Our Lady of 121st Street and Jesus Hopped the A Train, among others. But, for real, what really hits me about this play is that it’s a story about folks you don’t ever really get to see on stage. Also, of course, I really wanted to work with my wife and Scott Greer. 

Q: What do you hope the Philadelphia audience will take away from this play?
JH: That more often than not, almost everyone is struggling with something, so, please, be patient, and above all, be kind. 
AS: I’m going to agree with what my husband said on this one.

Q: So, theater is back and you get to leave the house again…only to end up being in the same show! How do you make it work?! Any advice to other theatre couples who may end up performing together?
AS: J and I work together really well because we respect one another, and we also happen to like each other a whole lot! We are both obsessed with work, and we both want the other to succeed. So, it’s a perfect situation for us.  
JH: One word…SUPPORT! Always support each other!

Q: What do the two of you enjoy doing together in your downtime away from the stage?
AS: We love “Netflix and chill” time. We also love our very silly kitty, Fruitcake! She likes to entertain us when we are home!
JH: Together, Mandy and I love screen time, trips to Target and walkabouts in IKEA, and going to Deke’s BBQ, our little getaway right around the corner from our home.

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