Jeffrey Solomon Brings Mother/Son to Rising Action
When Jeffrey Solomon came out to his mother, he never feared rejection. But he also never imagined the two of them would one day march in a gay pride parade.But they did, and that journey—from coming out to absolute acceptance—is the basis of Solomon’s one-man show Mother/ Son, which he will perform at Rising Action Theatre June 10-27.
“My mom and I marched together in the Stonewall 25 parade in 1994—her idea,” says Solomon. “That was a wonderful, life- changing experience.”
Solomon stresses that Mother/Son is not a strict autobiographical piece, and that about half of the things that happen in the play are factual. “I didn’t want the pressure of that, or the limitations of that,” says Solomon.“It is very much inspired by my relationship with my mom, and, in fact, many of the details are from my life. But many others are not.What is true autobiographically are the feelings, so I don’t feel the weight that I’m acting my life, so much as I’m sharing the spirit of my mom.”
In Mother/Son, Solomon plays both characters, morphing seamlessly from son to mother and back again. Solomon’s sisters often bring friends who never met their mom to see Mother/Son as sort of the next best thing.
“For me it’s special to evoke my mom’s character,” he says.“It’s like touching base with my mom.To be able to share her sense of humor, her spirit, her outrage, even her annoyingness, is a pleasure.”
Mother/Son has been embraced by many LGBT groups, and many PFLAG chapters have sponsored performances of the play.
“The term ‘family values’ is bandied about by the religious right,” he says. “This really is family values:To have to learn how to love and accept your child as they are, and then stand proudly beside them and tell the world, is so inspirational.”
Solomon has been performing Mother/Son for 12 years, and estimates that by the end of the year he will have performed Mother/ Son 200 times.The play has been translated into several languages, including Greek, but Solomon has no plans at the current time to allow anyone else to perform the show in English.
Solomon has taken the show international and has found that the universality of the story translates well abroad. “Gay audiences in the U.S., U.K., India and Sri Lanka have tended to react the same,” he says. He likes when gay men and women bring their parents to the show—he remembers one man in India who brought his mom—and he sees a trend toward parents bringing their children.
Solomon is gratified to know that he has made an impact.
“It really is meaningful and moving to me when people are touched by the play,” he says.“Even if they say,‘I saw the play and I had to go home and call my mom,’ that means a lot to me.”