Eight Tales of Pedro is a show I had to give myself permission to write. When introduced to the folk tales of Pedro Urdamales and Juan Bobo, I fell in love and wanted to adapt them for the stage. Over the years, as I’ve looked into my own heritage - with a grandfather from Mexico and another from Honduras - and I’ve sought to find a connection. I knew that I wanted to tell these stories but I couldn’t say why. Not to anyone else, and certainly not to myself.
I was raised in the Southern California suburbs. I never learned Spanish. I have trouble rolling my Rs. People hear “Garcia” and expect something of me that I don't live up to.
In each of my full length works, I try to take an issue that is of importance to me. Standby is a reaction to suicide. The Holy Cows of Credence, South Dakota is about coming to terms with God. Facing East centers on the LGBT/Religion relationship. (Un)missed Connections is about monogamy. Eight Tales is equally as personal.
The stories themselves have had an interesting journey. Pedro Urdamales began in Spain in the form of oral storytelling. Juan Bobo began in Puerto Rico. Cervantes would even write a play based on Pedro. Even later as people began to arrive in the Americas, they brought these stories with them. But what did these short tales of trickery, bravery, and honor have to do with now? Or with me?
I wrote them because I couldn't get them out of my head. I created staged versions. And I saved this collection of stories knowing that someday the right reason would appear to tell them.
I never thought the reason would be Donald Trump. I never expected to be inspired into action by people screaming “build the wall.” I never expected to ever have to defend my own citizenship to people who felt the need to question it during an argument.
These were people who didn’t see me as a guy from the California suburbs who didn’t speak Spanish. They didn’t care about my story. This was a group of people who saw me as “brown.” And in their eyes “brown” had little to offer.
Eight Tales of Pedro is my response to that. I began to write. Two questions rang out. "Why do people leave their homes?" and "What happens when they get there?"
These are stories of honor, wit, trickery and most of all fun. Among them, there is another story showcasing what Latinos have brought to the U.S. and why it is so important that we talk less of borders and walls and more of bridges and connections.
Eight Tales of Pedro will play as part of the 8th Annual Unfringed Festival at the Secret Theatre in Queens.
That one guy from ENCORE! on ABC. NYC based Writer/Actor/Storyteller. Theatre Maker. Husband. Bad Hombre. Cat Taunter.