What is ‘Reborning’? The Answer May Surprise You


This is not a real baby.

LA Premiere of Fountain Play Explores True-Life Fascination with Lifelike Baby Dolls

In the Fountain Theatre’s upcoming LA Premiere of Reborning by Zayd Dohrn, Kelly is a young artist who creates reborn babies. What is a reborn baby? What is reborning?

A reborn doll is a manufactured vinyl doll that has been transformed to resemble a human baby with as much realism as possible. The process of creating a reborn doll is referred to as reborning and the doll artists are referred to as reborners.  Reborn dolls are also known as living dolls.

Ryan Doucette, Joanna Strapp in 'Reborning'.

Ryan Doucette, Joanna Strapp in ‘Reborning’.

The hobby of creating reborn baby dolls began around 1999 when doll enthusiasts wanted more realistic dolls. Since then, an industry surrounding reborn dolls has emerged. Reborn dolls are primarily purchased on EBay and the internet and on artist websites, often called “nursuries”. Purchases are not called sales but “adoptions”. There are trade shows for collectors nationwide. Depending on craftsmanship, dolls range in price from hundreds to thousands of dollars

Some consumers of reborn dolls use them to replace a child they once lost, or a child that has grown up. Others collect reborns as they would regular dolls. These dolls are usually taken seriously and are cared for like an infant. Because of their realistic appearance, reborn dolls have often been mistaken for real babies.

reborn doll parts table

Many women purchase a reborn doll to fill a void of a lost child and may treat reborns as living babies. Some customers order special dolls that are exact replicas of their own children who died at birth or in infancy. These are individually made from hand-sculpted clay forms made from photographs of the child.

“It fills a spot in your heart,” says a woman on the Today Show as she cuddled “Benjamin” and “Michael” in her arms. 

‘The Today Show’ Explores Reborning

Creepy? Bizarre? Or a positive source of comfort and healing? A work of art?

In the edgy comedy/drama Reborning, Kelly  comes to suspect that a particularly demanding client  may be her own long-lost mother. The lines between art and life begin to blur as Kelly tries to unravel the mystery. This funny and compelling play takes a riveting look at work, motherhood and the power of healing. Don’t miss it! Opens Jan 24th.


“A comic setup that spins into deeply affecting territory.” San Francisco Chronicle

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