What does a parent owe a child, and what does a child owe that parent when these roles are reversed? These are the central questions in Elizabeth Peavey’s heartbreaking and hilarious one-woman show, My Mother’s Clothes Are Not My Mother, which explores the frustrations, tenderness, revelations and humor entailed in caring for an aging parent.
When Peavey’s late mother's condo sells, she's forced to wade through its contents. As she does, possessions - the Polynesian hors d'oeuvre platter, the outdated evening coat, the teacups and the milk glass – trigger memories, causing her to reflect on the often-fraught bond she had with her glamorous mom. Peavey’s “Mad Men”-era childhood is revisited in all its drinky, smoky Technicolor detail, including those giant Kotex pads (“the size of a Barbie mattress”) and the diet candy Ayds (“nothing more than chocolate-covered amphetamines”). When Peavey is in her 20s and her beloved dad dies, she reluctantly spends the next 20 years “playing husband” to her mother. (“Yes, it’s true. I dated my mom.”) Later, we track her mother’s decline and the challenges these transitions presented for both. (“Despite the fact my mother had lost all interest in the dinner hour, she saluted the cocktail hour with the utmost regularity.”) At the play’s end, Peavey confronts how ill prepared she was to care for her mother.
Were either of these women well-suited to the roles thrust upon them? Not really. But, as My Mother’s Clothes reveals, they did the best they could.
My Mother’s Clothes was awarded the 2013 Maine Literary Award for Best Drama.
On September 15, 2011, My Mother's Clothes Are Not My Mother premiered to an overflow house at St. Lawrence Arts, Portland. (I had intended to do one night.) A series of sold-out shows followed at that venue through the end of the year. In 2012, through a number of requests and invitations, I took the show on the road around Maine. After a hiatus in 2013, I brought the show back by popular demand and have been making select performances ever since.
• November: Two week run at the Public Theatre, Lewiston, Maine. Several sold-out houses, consistent standing ovations and three well-attended talkbacks with local hospice professionals regarding end-of-life issues
• June: Featured presenter at the 27th Annual Geriatrics Conference, Bar Harbor, Maine
• November: Two University of Maine-sponsored performances at the Portland and Farmington campuses
• May: Hannaford Hall, University of Southern Maine: a private performance sponsored by H.M. Payson to honor the work of the Center For Grieving Children
• June: St. Lawrence Arts, Portland: Two sold-out houses
• July: Waterman’s Community Center, North Haven Island, Maine
• May: Stage Left Studio, New York City. Two performances to full houses marked my New York City debut.
• June: St. Lawrence Arts, Portland: Three back-to-back sold-out houses. Even then, we were turning people away at the door.
• June: Stonington Opera House: Another full house in this august venue at the tip of Deer Isle.
• February: Bay Path College, Longmeadow, MA. Performance culminated my week as writer-in-residence.
• June: sold-out return to St. Lawrence Arts, Portland
• September: two return shows at St. Lawrence Arts. Sunday matinee followed by a curtain talked titled: "Why Do We Keep Stuff?"
• February: Sold-out show at the The Rack, Sugarloaf, USA
• April: You can go home again. My Mother's Clothes took to the stage at the Chocolate Church Arts Center in my hometown of Bath. Great houses, lots of familiar faces and blasts from the past.
• April: Another sold-out show at the Magic Lantern, Bridgton, to benefit the Bridgton Library
• September 15 & 16: St. Lawrence Art Center, Portland
• October: Lincoln Theater, Damariscotta
• October 13: Project Graduation benefit performance, Oxford Hills
• November: Rockport Opera House
Featured on the front page of the Maine Sunday Telegram’s Audience section
Guest appearance on WCSH's "207"
An earlier feature on the front page of the Maine Sunday Telegram’s Audience section: (http://www.pressherald.com/2015/05/17/fresh-from-new-york-elizabeth-peavey-is-back-with-my-mothers-clothes/)
Panelist on Maine Public Broadcasting program “Maine Calling” titled, “Why Do We Keep Stuff?” http://news.mpbn.net/post/why-do-we-keep-stuff
Profile from The Republican and Mass Live.com: Writer Elizabeth Peavey presents 'My Mother's Clothes Are Not My Mother'
Interview from "Maine Things Considered": http://www.mpbn.net/Home/tabid/36/ctl/ViewItem/mid/3478/ItemId/19004/Default.aspx
Two segments from WCSH'S "207": http://www.wcsh6.com/life/programming/local/207/article/179162/50/Liz-Peavey and
"Good Day Maine": http://www.myfoxmaine.com/story/15401970/author-elizabeth-peavey
Bob Keyes from the "Go" section of the Press Herald: http://www.pressherald.com/life/go/my-mothers-clothes-covers-lots-of-emotional-ground_2011-10-06.html?searchterm=peavey+Go
Bill Nemitz in the Maine Sunday Telegram: http://www.pressherald.com/news/parents-gone-but-soul-stuff-lives-on_2011-08-21.html