The dangers of revealing secrets to close family members is a suspense-laden theme, one that often inspires dread, but it can occasionally bring about good results, especially in a family already drifting apart.
Such an idea is the centerpiece of a new play written and starring Nashvillian playwright, Eddie Stahl. His new work, entitled “Going Home,” can be seen on June 16 and 17 at Covenant of the Cross, and it focuses both on how relationships can be strengthened with each piece of ourselves that is opened up for others to see, and on how hard going home can be.
“The idea for the story did not necessarily come from my past…as a whole,” says Stahl. “I think, as a gay man, there is always the dread of going home, especially when it’s time to take the significant other. For me, my parents (mother and stepfather) were always very accepting of me being ‘different.’ As long as we did not talk about my orientation, everything was fine. It took many years to get to the point where I could take anyone home.”
Focusing on four major characters, a father, a mother, their son, and his boyfriend, Stahl begins with an estranged family and pushes their characters through major changes upon reaching the conclusion of the play. The most notable change comes from the mother, Ellen, played by Anita Hodge. “In the beginning,” Stahl explains, “we see her as the obedient housewife serving her husband, Tom (played by Greg Weeks). By the end of the play, Ellen becomes someone who can stand on her own two feet, gaining the respect she deserves from everyone, including the audience.”
Stahl portrays the son, Michael, a role he never intended for himself. The actor he had in mind had a schedule that conflicted with the timing of the play, as Stahl explains: “I had no intentions of taking on a lead role myself—I try to stick to cameo appearances. Due to unforeseen circumstances, one month into the rehearsal schedule, the role of Michael became vacant. Because I did not want to extend the date of the play much more than a month, I decided to take on the role of Michael myself.”
The character in the most awkward situation is probably Michael’s boyfriend, John, played by Miguel Cooper. “John, being the outsider, must try to play the neutral card while waiting to get into good graces with the family,” says Stahl. “Michael has to mend the estranged relationship with his mother, he has to form a relationship with his stepfather that was never really there, and he has to maintain his relationship with John through everything that is going on.”
The fun of most dramas is discovering how a character can change his path with one action, and if he will be brave enough to take that action. Stahl concurs, “I think the audience will get the feeling that even though revealing secrets can be very difficult, keeping them to yourself can be worse. In ‘Going Home’ Michael had already distanced himself from his family for fear of rejection. By revealing that he is gay, he has a small chance that the distance will lessen. He will never find out what happens if he keeps the secret to himself.”
“Going Home” will be performed at Covenant of the Cross, located at 916 Old Hickory Blvd West, Madison, Tenn. 37115, on June 16 and 17 at 7:00 p.m. There is no admission fee, but donations will be accepted, a portion of which will be given to Hands on Nashville.