Believe it or not, spring has finally sprung here in Boston. It’s the season of new life and new beginnings—and no one knows this more than Filipina-American writer and comedian Kat Evasco, who is now embarking on a national tour of her first original full-length play, Mommy Queerest.
“When you create a project like this, you don’t know how far it’s going to go. We had hopes, but we didn’t know until it happened,” Evasco says of her play, which sold out a six-week extended run in San Francisco.
An active member of the Bay Area theater and comedy scene for the past 11 years, Evasco regularly performs stand up while co-running a theater company called Guerilla Rep, but says she never considered writing a full-length work until a turning point in her personal life practically begged to be transformed for the stage.
“[Mommy Queerest] paints a very true story of my life,” Evasco says. “I had started writing stand-up comedy bits about my mom being gay, and her being homophobic towards me. The first two experiences of homophobia I experienced were from my closeted mother and a closeted pastor who was a ‘reformed’ lesbian. I had a comedian friend who was like, ‘Your mom didn’t accept you for being gay but she was gay? You need to write about this!’”
An interactive mix of performance and stand up, Mommy Queerest combines theatrical artistry with the unique, compelling story of a mother and daughter rediscovering strength in each other while struggling to come to terms with their respective sexual identities, both as women and as Asian-American immigrants. Evasco’s play is an ambitious effort that tackles issues from cultural identity to sexual exploration and abuse through the perspective of a queer person of color—a perspective crying out for a voice in the contemporary American theater scene.
“I think people experience a really fun show—they’re laughing, and then like an hour later it hits them, like, ‘Whoa. We were just laughing about sexual abuse,’ and that’s, like, totally intentional,” Evasco explains with a good-natured laugh.
Above all, however, she feels that her humor can serve as a bridge to understanding for those who may not be able to personally identify with these types of narratives.
“When you’re presenting a wide range of topics that are kind of heavy in theater presentations, it tends to suck up a lot of people’s energy, versus going to a comedy show where you leave energized. I think this humor makes the show really accessible,” she says. “And as a person who produces a lot of autobiographical and documentary-based work, I really believe that the specificity in our stories is what makes them universal.”
Evasco is incredibly excited and honored to be performing her East Coast premiere in Boston, which will be produced by the Theater Offensive. The company believes so solidly in her work that they are hosting Evasco for three weeks in their first ever artist residency program.
“[Artistic Director] Abe [Rybeck] and the Theater Offensive have been so amazing through this entire process. They’re a company that is really committed to showcasing a diversity of voices,” Evasco says. “People like me exist in Boston, and if I could share my story and it could open a dialogue with the community here, I think that’s a huge key factor in why we’re so excited to bring the show here.”
At its core, Mommy Queerest captures, in its wholly unique form, the universal aspects of what it means to be a part of a mother-daughter relationship. The story is heartfelt, no doubt because of its truth, and through Evasco’s voice it gives much-needed visibility to one of Boston’s many diverse communities. Additionally, it seeks to call out our perpetuation of homophobia and abuse.
“The show is really aimed at breaking cycles of silence,” Evasco says. “My whole artistic practice is centered around using humor to talk about difficult things.”
THE THEATER OFFENSIVE: OUT IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD PRESENTS: MOMMY QUEEREST. CLUB CAFE, 209 COLUMBUS AVE., BOSTON. THROUGH APRIL 17. $10. THETHEATEROFFENSIVE.ORG