if all that You take from this is courage, then I've no regrets
After a brush with danger, a strong-willed matriarch reminisces with her grandson on all the things their histories have taught them. “if all that You take from this is courage, then I’ve no regrets” explores Filipino American identity, intergenerational disconnect, and weighing your wars to make sure you’re not fighting for nothing.
Nicholas Pilapil is a Filipino American playwright. His work has been developed with Artists at Play, IAMA Theatre Company, Playwrights Foundation, Theatre Rhinoceros, The Fountain Theatre, The Vagrancy and Victory Gardens, among others. His play “The Bottoming Process” has been read at Victory Gardens’ Ignite Chicago Festival of New Plays, IAMA Theatre Company’s Under 30 Lab Series, and was a finalist with honorable mention at the Bay Area Playwrights Festival. Nicholas is a member of The Writers’ Room at the Geffen Playhouse, and is an alum of the IAMA Theatre Under 30 Playwrights Lab, The Vagrancy Playwrights Group, Playground-LA, and artEquity.
A BIT ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT
1. When did you start writing plays? If you had a moment where you realized you wanted to write, what was it?
I wrote my first play, because of playwright Madhuri Shekar—she knew I was a writer before I knew it for myself. We were in rehearsal for her play “In Love and Warcraft,” and she was teaching a playwriting class at East West Players in Los Angeles at the same time. On a whim, solely for the fun of it, I decided to take her class. I had no ambitions to be a playwright at all.
2. How did you come to write your OOB play? Was there a particular inspiration behind its creation? How has it developed?
IAMA Theatre Company in Los Angeles is to blame for this play! In the fall of 2021, they invited me to write a short play for the Pass the Mic Festival, their annual new play festival to amplify voices of the Global Majority—that year they were amplifying AAPI stories and voices.
For “if all that You take from this is courage, then I’ve no regrets,” I found my inspiration in my Filipino Grandmother. I thought about everything I know about her life before I knew her—before she immigrated to America—and I realized that I know less than I know more. And so, this play became about a person who is a stranger to one of the people he loves most in this world.
3. What are 5 words that describe who you are as a playwright?
Asian boy writing Asian things.
4. What/who are some of the major influences on your writing?
I am influenced by the way an Asian American body navigates a primarily white America. Thinking of the ways we align ourselves with whiteness—or don’t, the ways we challenge the status quo—or are torn down by it, and the ways we find pride in being Asian American in a country that doesn’t have much pride for you.
With my writing, I aim to tell specifically Asian American stories: how sometimes an Asian American experience can look very familiar to any other “white people play” that is widely produced, and how not all Asian storytelling needs to be tethered to immigrant suffering, shared trauma, and having strict moms who want us to be doctors.
I am also very inspired by my insatiable need to make people laugh, and writers like Leah Nanako Winkler and Carla Ching!
5. What’s one fact someone would never guess about you?
I am a secret book influencer on Instagram, and I use the powers of my anonymous Bookstagram to get a lot of free books.
6. What are some of your favorite plays?
“Two Mile Hollow” by Leah Nanako Winkler, “Vietgone” by Qui Nguyen, “The Two Kids That Blow Shit Up” by Carla Ching, and then my basic answer: “Angels in America.”
7. Any new projects you’re working on or shameless plugs?
Google: Artists at Play in Los Angeles. I am a producing member of this theatre company, and we are focused on developing new works by AAPI writers and producing theatrical programming that explores the Asian American experience. Make a tax-deductible donation or follow us on social media!