Current Theatrics and Circa Pintig present P/FAERIE TALE Preview to premiere at the 77th World Science Fiction Convention in Dublin - PODCAST PREVIEW HERE!
Thursday August 15th 14h30 to 15h00 Discussion of the Diwata, faeries of the Philippines.
Friday August 16th 09h45 to 10h15 Discussion of the Sidhe, faeries of Ireland.
Saturday August 17th 14h00 to 15h00 World Premiere of P/Faerie Tale.
Dublin Convention Center
Spencer Dock, N Wall Quay, North Wall, Dublin, Ireland
August 15th Warehouse 2 at Point Square
August 16th Cabaret Stage, Wicklow 2A
August 17th Second Stage
P/Faerie Tale is a new play by Ruth Pe Palileo soon to premiere at the 77th World Science Fiction Convention in Dublin. The play follows a Filipino young woman, Naomi, and her Irish mother-in-law , Mara, on a journey as Philippine and Irish fairytales intertwine. An audio preview of P/Faerie is available for listeners worldwide. The playwright hopes that the full-length play will be performed onstage in early 2020. Here, Picture This Post (PTP) spoke with playwright Ruth Pe Palileo (RPP) about her upcoming project.
(PTP) Can you give us an overview of your theatre background?
(RPP) I have a doctorate in Theatre History from Trinity College in Dublin. My undergrad degree and Masters were in Biology and I actually worked as a Science Writer for the Chicago Tribune then went on to be a Patent Agent at Brinks Hofer in the Loop. I’ve always loved theatre though and continued to write and direct plays on the side. So after 9/11, I had this idea that I’d follow my calling for one year. After about 7 years of following the call in Ireland, I went back to Patent work but this time for a firm in Scottsdale AZ. I balanced the two careers—writing patent Opinions by day and directing plays by night—from 2011 til last year.
How did Current Theatrics come to be formed? How’s about Circa Pintig?
Current Theatrics (CT) started in 2009 when Dr. Tommy Costello, also Artistic Director of CT, was invited to direct a show at Cleveland Irish Fest. At the time, he was finishing his doctorate and asked me to go to Cleveland and pinch-hit as the director. He’d done several 24-hour Play Fests and was thinking of a company that did shows which were distilled into a time frame like the 24-hour play fest and which also build travel into its mission. We auditioned people online and then everybody we cast showed up in Cleveland for about 4 days and we presented three new short plays. Both Tommy and I continue to be taken with the idea of travelling, living and breathing a show for a short period of time and then presenting the show and moving on.
Circa Pintig is in its 27th year as a Filipino-American arts organization in Chicago and I connected with them in 2004 while presenting a chapter of my dissertation at a Fil-Am history panel at UIC. I’ve been writing plays for them since then. If Current Theatrics is my travelling theatre side, Circa Pintig is my feel-at-home theatre side.
Tell us about the P/Faerie tale: What inspired you to write it?
Back in 2007, I think, Solstice Arts Centre in County Meath invited several non-Irish playwrights to write some site-specific short plays for their Arts Centre. They decided not to produce the one-act that I wrote to be set in their café. I was so haunted by Mara and Naomi’s relationship that I came back to it about two years later, wrote a full-length play of about 60 pages. This year I returned to it again and slashed it in half to present it on stage for the first time at Dublin Worldcon.
I called the play P/Faerie Tale to emphasize there isn’t actually an F in the Philippine/Tagalog language. And because I love to play with words and language and find a slash can be inclusive or exclusive. It’s like a little wall within the word “P/Faerie”.
The actual inspiration about Mara and Naomi came to me at the wedding of my friend Val (Philippine) to Damo (Irish) in Limerick. I had a conversation with someone at the wedding about rain being good luck on a wedding day in the Philippines and she was Irish and thought I was mental to be glad about rain. I ducked out of the reception for about two hours to write the first draft of the one-act.
What gave you the idea for the podcast preview?
I wanted to record that first scene and have it available as a sort of trailer or backstory for audience members who wanted it before coming to see the show in Dublin.
What was the process like for both the podcast and the performance?
For the podcast, I really wanted to get a feel for not directing my own writing, so beyond having a quick pow-wow with my actors after a single read-through, I stepped back and let them take over creating the podcast.
For the performance, I’ve been working with the actors through Whatsapp and Zoom Meetings for about a month. Then we all arrive in Dublin and drill the script then have two days to present background information about the two different sets of faeries in workshop panels at the convention and then it’s the show for one Saturday afternoon only. And all this time we’re eating and sleeping in the same gaff. I trust that as with previous Current Theatrics’ productions, this will bring us together.
What sort of challenges have you encountered throughout the process?
The biggest challenge is stopping being the playwright and staying focused on the directing. I cut the play in half and sometimes, when an actor asks about motivation behind a given moment in the script we’re using, I can get quite frustrated because I think it’s in the working script but it’s actually in the full-length script. I have to set aside the playwright’s urge to fix the lines and trust that the director will find some way to make the lines breathe and make sense for this production. And then I have to remember that when I become the playwright again, I need to fix those lines.
It’s a process that makes me feel like my own worst enemy. Because if I try to keep finding playwright solutions, it stops the momentum that’s so important for a director to generate in order to get a show onstage—a director has to drive the show forward always. Whereas a playwright needs to pause and look back and put some things away and meander around the script. I have to send the playwright out of the room or I’ll never be able to direct properly.
Can you tell us about the 77th World Science Fiction Convention? Have you ever produced a show at an event like this before?
The World Science Fiction Convention, sometimes called WorldCon is held annually by the World Science Fiction Society in a different city and has a ton of films, concerts, panels, performances related to science fiction, crowned by the announcement of the Hugo Award winners for best science fiction writing in a given year. It’s a very literate convention with a fascinating history.
I directed The Anubis Gates, which I adapted from the Hugo-award winning time travel novel by Tim Powers at the 2014 World Con in London. And I directed and adapted one fairy tale by Neil Gaiman, Troll Bridge, at the 2012 World Con.
What do you hope the audience will take away from this show?
I’m hoping they’ll be more curious about Philippine folklore and culture.
I also hope people want to believe in and accompany Mara as a capable protagonist even though she’s not a swashbuckling sword-carrying hero. I live with my 84-year-old parents and I keep returning to this same idea in plays I direct—old/elderly is on the outside, inside we always perceive ourselves as capable and I love the idea that when Mara gets into the immortal realm, she’s not trapped by her age anymore.
I also hope people will come to appreciate the kind of heroic survival instinct of people like Naomi.
I hope they’ll want to discuss with me whether the reason life is so sweet is because it’s got a time limit. I feel like having parameters and walls and limits and boundaries can actually be very freeing and lifegiving depending on one’s perception.
Listen to the audio preview here: https://soundcloud.com/user-979199246/pfaerie-tale-scene-1
For more information visit the World Con Website
For more information on Ruth Pe Palileo visit her website here
Photos courtesy of Current Theatrics and Circa Pintig