This is a tough one because the show on the surface seems simple, but it's actually very complex. On the level of story, MOTHERS AND SONS is about Katharine entering the lives of Cal, Will, and Bud unexpectedly on an evening just before the Christmas holiday. Katharine is the mother of Andre, Cal's partner in the 1980s, who passed away. We learn that the last time Katharine had seen Cal was at Andre's memorial 20 years ago. Now she shows up unexpectedly to learn that Cal is now married to Will and they are raising a son named Bud. On the thematic level (and there are a number of themes), the play is about facing our past choices and coming to terms with how those choices bear upon the lives we live in the present. It's also about what it means to be a family today. I’d also say the play makes an accurate statement about a generation of gay men who were sadly lost to aids in the 1980s and 1990s and the possibility that that era and those individuals will be forgotten.
What do you like about MOTHERS AND SONS?
On a structural level I love that the play is so compact. Ninety minutes of pure drama with no intermission! No set changes and no transitions. The action takes place in perpetual present time. Terrence McNally, the playwright, is just so good at crafting a story that unfolds before our eyes while we're spending an hour and a half with these four people. I love the characters in the play. I feel I know them all very well. I’ve personally had or have people just like them in my own life. I lived in New York at the same time that the crucial backstory of MOTHERS AND SONS happened. I am of the same generation as Cal. Of all the plays I’ve directed, I have a very intimate connection to this one.
What scares you about MOTHERS AND SONS?
The emotions involved in the story for me on a personal level. It will be a real challenge to do the technical work and not become overwhelmed with the emotional content. We have an amazing cast and even in the audition process I was profoundly moved. I’m really looking forward to making the play happen with this cast. I’m always a little scared going into the process of bringing life to a play because like everyone involved, I just want to do the most excellent work possible and continue to grow as a theater maker.
What will you be trying to accomplish directorially with MOTHERS AND SONS?
We really want the audience to feel the intimacy of this story. The FlynnSpace is perfect for this play. It will be as if we are in the living room of the apartment on the upper west side of Manhattan where Cal, Will, and Bud live.
What kinds of conversations would you like the audience to have after experiencing this play?
Oh boy, where to start? I hope that the audience can reflect upon the idea of acceptance. Accepting our past and our present—being able to live with our choices and then make amends for the past choices we made that might not have been the best. I hope also that audiences will reflect on gratitude. One of the many moving aspects of the play is that the character Cal has experienced great loss in his life and yet now he finds himself in a loving relationship with a great husband, and together they're raising a healthy, happy son. Like many good dramas, their lives are affected by an intrusion. In the play that comes in the form of Katharine. She symbolizes a dying social perception that being gay is wrong, or unacceptable, or something to be kept quiet. She was unaccepting of her son. She now has to come to terms with how society has changed and she also has to confront the reality of the happy, healthy family life that, sadly, her son was never to have. The play reminds us that all we have is the present moment and the people that love and support us. The story reminds us that the present moment is fleeting. It's a small play with huge emotions and profound ideas.