Kenny and his little sister have to fend for themselves after their mother dies and their asshole father abandons them for his job and his girlfriend. Most of us would probably just become deviant little snots if fate dealt us that card.
But in playwright A. Rey Pamatmat's heartrending and controversial Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them, opening this Friday night at New Theatre, Kenny and little sister Edith, use their wit, love for one another, a stuffed toy frog and Edith's adept skills with an air rifle to survive the hardships. "The play is about three people learning how to become a family," Pamatmat tells us.
"And the family they form is strong because it's not just about blood or
particular roles or necessary functions. The family that forms is
between three people who accept each other as they are and who help each
other become the best that they can be."
Kenny and little sister Edith make a life for themselves on their isolated farm, dealing with their plight as best they can while being forced to into adulthood way too soon. And while the play isn't autobiographical, the emotional toll the characters suffer comes from Pamatmat's own personal experiences growing up as an isolated child.
Edith Can Shoot Things takes place mostly on an empty farm somewhere in the Midwest where Kenny and Edith make a life for themselves, dealing with their plight as best they can.
Among them is Kenny's friend Benji, who also becomes a part of their makeshift family. Benji's mother, meanwhile, is none too pleased when she discovers that Kenny is also Benji's boyfriend.
"I grew up on a non-working farm in the Midwest," Pamatmat says. "I am Filipino, and I am queer. But in reality, the inspiration for Edith Can Shoot came from a realization that my isolated upbringing had as many benefits as it did drawbacks."
One of the benefits Pamatmat's solitary moments provided was a desire to write, largely to entertain himself. But what became a hobby has made him a rising playwright. "Clearly that's done well for me," he says.
Kenny, Edith, and Benji are seemingly closed off to those who would otherwise enforce their rules and their own brand of values on them. But when Kenny and Benji's relationship is discovered, and when Edith shoots something she shouldn't have, the outside world soon starts to cave in. And the three are forced to confront their obstacles together.
"I hope that the audience will walk away from the play understanding that these kinds of families and communities where, again, people accept each other as they are and help each other become the best that they can be, can overcome a variety of adversity and sometimes even end up better because of it," Pamatmat says.
New Theatre's production is directed by Ricky J. Martinez and stars Juan Gonzalez Machain, John Robert Warren, and Natasha Waisfeld.
A. Rey Pamatmat's
Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them opens this Friday at New Theatre (4120 Laguna St., Coral Gables). Showtime is at 8 p.m. Tickets are $40 ($15 for students) Call 305-443-5909 or visit new-theatre.org.
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