by Julia Cho
Being primarily an actor, producing theatre is still fairly new to me. But when I first read Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them, my producer self was immediately struck by the desire to share it with everyone I know. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about putting in all the work necessary to mount a fully staged production while not getting to perform. Now to see the play with all the elements in place, I’ve never been prouder to be part of a project.
Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them is a play that resonates in so many ways. But how to describe it? At the basest level, you can call it a “Filipino play” since Edith and her brother Kenny are Filipino American… I’m not. You could also call it a “gay play” since Kenny and his friend Benji are attracted to each other and namely others of the same sex… I’m not. So why do I love this play? Because I know what it’s like to have grown up too soon, to be that parent/older sibling hybrid, to stumble through the feelings (and fears) of first love, to face the fact I will never stop feeling uncertain about the world and my place in it… the list goes on and on.
Through the prism of the young characters, we get to know their parental units (who are never seen onstage) and in the end I am reminded of the realization that our parents are simply human beings with their own strengths and weaknesses. I grew up in the perfect nuclear family; I had a dad, a mom, a sister, and a brother. Mom doted on us and Dad took us on family trips, while Sister kept things lively and Brother got to be the baby. But then we all grew older and started to see that living under the same roof and being stuck in a station wagon during holiday weekends did not a family make. Like Kenny and Edith, I started to see my parents falter and found myself acting more like the adult when all I wanted was to still be the kid.
At a certain point, I had to accept the fact that my parents could not meet all my hopes and expectations of what they were supposed to do and how grownups in general were supposed to be. They were just people, like me, and they didn’t have all the answers. And once I understood that, I could free myself of the disappointments, frustrations, and resentment. I could let them be and love them for who they were and what they had done for me. I think we all come to that point where we stop expecting our parents to know everything and fix everything. Because they don’t and they can’t. Just like you and me and everyone else trying to navigate their way through life.
Maybe like Kenny, you learned to stop defending your parents. Maybe like Benji, you learned to stop depending on them. Or maybe like Edith, you learned to stop waiting for them to change. Whatever the case, we can find ourselves in one or more of these characters who eventually break away from the nuclear family ideal and instead find hope and solace in the unconventional family they create together. While still shaped and molded by our parents, we all come into our own, become our own selves.
I hope you will let me share this play with you. Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them will take you back to those times when you felt alone, when you desperately wanted to be loved and accepted, when you were growing up– or even now– trying to figure it all out.
“But why am I still scared, Benji?”
“I don’t think we’ll ever stop being scared. I don’t think we have to stop.”
Peter J. Kuo: “Spirit Day, Coming Out and Edith”
Stefanie Lau: “My Daughter and Edith Growing Up Fast”
Marie-Reine Velez: “Taking Asian Americans Beyond Race/Ethnicity”
Collective Statement: “AAP Founding Members on the Importance of Edith“
Photo credits: Rodney To and Amielynn Abellera in Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them by A. Rey Pamatmat. Photos by Michael C. Palma