Current Weather
The Spy FM

‘Edith Can Shoot’ (And Knit A Family Together)

Filed by KOSU News in Art & Life.
March 19, 2012

Edith is “too old to be talking to a stuffed frog and too young to be carrying a gun.”

That’s how Rey Pamatmat describes the main character — who carries both items — in his play Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them.

Pamatmat’s play premiered at the prestigious Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville, Kentucky last year. Since then, it’s been playing at regional theaters around the country.

Edith is an outspoken 12-year-old whose best friend is Fergie, a giant stuffed frog. Pamatmat says writing a 12-year-old character was easy: Growing up, he was surrounded by kids.

“I’m from a Filipino family,” Pamatmat says. “You can’t go to a family gathering without there being kids around.”

Pamatmat says Edith’s precociousness is something else he gets from his family, specifically from the women: his mom, two sisters and several aunts.

“I tend to think that Filipino women are very outspoken,” says Pamatmat. “But maybe it’s just my mother and her family, I don’t know. But then May Adrales, who directed the Humana Festival production of the play, is also very outspoken. So maybe Edith is very Filipino.”

Adrales, who’s also Filipino-American, concedes she probably is on the outspoken side. At her own family gatherings, she says, it’s the women who “keep the party afloat.”

“Laughing a lot, starting the conversation, cooking, making everybody eat,” says Adrales.

In the play, Edith and her quieter older brother Kenny are latchkey kids growing up in a rural part of middle America. Their mom died and their dad is never home. Edith tries to keep her home afloat, even though she’s the youngest.

They’re pretty much navigating life alone, except for one other character: Benji. He was kicked out of his house when his parents found out he was gay. He’s Kenny’s classmate and, more significantly, his first boyfriend.

Benji moves in with Kenny and Edith, and the three kids form a kind of family. Here’s where Edith’s gun comes in: Like a little soldier, she believes it’s her job to protect them. So, with either her gun or a bow and arrow, she boasts that she can shoot and hit stuff. You’ll have to see the play to find out if she really does.

Pamatmat partly identifies with Edith.

“I shot a pistol when I was 8 years old,” he says — pop guns, too, in the Philippines when he was visiting cousins. Pamatmat grew up in rural Michigan, where he says plenty of kids learn to use weapons. He says he has a lot of things in common with both Edith and Kenny.

“Like being a person of color in Middle America,” says Pamatmat. “Like discovering my sexuality, because there were not that many images of gay and lesbian people back then.”

Showing those experiences on stage is important to Pamatmat — and to May Adrales, who says that, for her, “seeing Filipino actors onstage and hearing them tell their story is always moving to me.”

Adrales and Pamatmat are part of the Asian American Performers Action Coalition. A recent study by the group found that last year just 2 percent of the roles on Broadway and major Off Broadway shows went to Asian American actors.

“You go to shows and everyone in the cast is of the same ethnicity,” Pamatmat says, “when in reality, almost all Americans live their life and encounter people of various ethnicities everyday. Whether it’s your co-workers or people at the grocery store.”

His plays will always have diverse casts, he says, because “that is the way my world actually is.”

Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them is playing now at Mu Performing Arts in Minneapolis, and at B Street Theater in Sacramento in May. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

Leave a Reply

9PM to 5AM The Spy

The Spy

An eclectic mix of the Spy's library of more than 10,000 songs curated by Ferris O'Brien.

Listen Live Now!

5AM to 9AM Morning Edition

Morning Edition

For more than two decades, NPR's Morning Edition has prepared listeners for the day ahead with two hours of up-to-the-minute news, background analysis, commentary, and coverage of arts and sports.

View the program guide!

9AM to 10AM The Takeaway

The Takeaway

A fresh alternative in morning news, "The Takeaway" provides a breadth and depth of world, national and regional news coverage that is unprecedented in public media.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center