Finding magic in the cracks of the sidewalks

Femia, GinaGina Femia’s The Mermaid Parade will receive it’s Pipeline reading premiere this coming July 23, 7:30PM, as part of our Bonfire Series. In advance of the reading, we caught up with Gina to learn a little more about the sparks of inspiration for this project, which may or may not have included a real life mermaid.

Learn more about Gina’s play below, and reserve your seats for her The Mermaid Parade, July 23, 7:30PM, South Oxford Space (138 S. Oxford St, Brooklyn).

Pipeline Theatre Company: What do you want us to know about your play?

Gina Femia: The Mermaid Parade is a play about friendship and trauma, about two people trying to connect with one another despite being worlds apart.  They’re connected by a mermaid –or the legend of a mermaid – who may or may not be real. 

PTC: When and where did you decide to start writing this play?

GF: The Mermaid Parade – the actual parade, not the title– is one of my favorite events of the year.  It’s a beautiful highlight where people from all over come together and celebrate the mythology of the sea in Brooklyn.  I’ve been trying to figure out a way to not only dramatize the event, but to dig deeper into what that parade represents personally to me; those who have lived in Coney Island their whole lives, the homeless that make the beach their home, just to name a few.  I also wanted to explore the complexity of a friendship and what happens when two people who love each other so much are forced to be apart for a long period of time. 

I grew up – and stubbornly remain – in Brooklyn.  There have been times where I had to find magic in the cracks of the sidewalks in order to keep going.  I sometimes still do.  I firmly believe that sometimes we need to believe in magic.  We need to comfort ourselves with stories and the possibility that they may be true.   

And one day, I was walking along the beach and saw some footprints walking towards the ocean – and none coming back.  What else could it have been but a mermaid?  So I started to write this play.     

PTC: What excites you most about this project?

GF: Figuring out what the heck is going on with this mermaid!  I’m working on the third draft of this play and am still exploring exactly how the mermaid functions in the play – but thanks to PlayLab, both the playwrights in the group and especially Colby Day for providing constant optimistic guidance – I’m much closer to discovering her secrets.

I realized that this play is actually about characters who are experiencing trauma.  Amy, the mermaid, is the first character to undergo her trauma and carries it with her throughout the rest of the play.  She’s homeless, cast out of the sea and forced to live on land and her story reflects the trauma that both Islande and Biron wind up facing.   

But like, do mermaids talk?! Do they speak English?!  Come on by to find out! 

PTC: In one sentence, tell us something strange that happens in your play.

GF: Islande breathes fire.

PTC: Are you working on anything else?

GF: I’ve been working diligently-ish rewriting The Violet Sisters, a play I had developed at the Great Plains Theatre Conference.  It’s a two-hander that takes place in real time in a post-Hurricane Sandy kitchen in Brooklyn. I’m also working to get a draft of my supermarket play, Savings, done so I can get into a room with Michele Travis and a bunch of actors and play with it.  And I’m actively writing a play called A Way Around The Bend, which is an inter-alien love story.   

PTC: Two truths and a lie, go:

GF: I’m like, super tired.
The US Constitution is a solid piece of writing.
The only place I think is better than Brooklyn is Walt Disney World.

PTC: What’s next for you?

GF: I’ll be frolicking on Fresh Ground Pepper’s BRB Retreat, where I’ll be working on my long abandoned/neglected superhero play, Super, or, How Clark Graves Learned to Fly.

After that, I’ll be hopping into rehearsals for my solo show Things I Don’t Want to Talk About: a hero(ine)’s journey which will be getting a 3-day workshop in September – stay tuned!

And For The Love Of (or the roller derby play) will be receiving a workshop the last two weeks of October.

About The Mermaid Parade

by Gina Femia | directed by Erin Ortman
Saturday, July 23, 7:30PM
Make a Reservation

Biron has been deployed to Iraq and Islande is stuck in Coney Island. A fable of a mermaid connects them as they confront personal horrors and find one another and themselves during a time of war.