Onions and Garlic by Celia Taylor and Paula Simons
August 18, 20, 22, 24 – 26 at Venue #11: Studio Theatre in the ATB Financial Arts Barns
An interview with Celia Taylor.
Describe your show in one sentence.
A musical fable and a love letter to root vegetables.
Okay, now that we’re intrigued… what’s the longer description of your show?
Onions and Garlic is a musical based on an old Jewish folktale, which tells the story of a poor but noble onion-seller and his wealthy, wicked elder brother. When the onion-seller does a good turn for a mysterious old woman, he finds himself transported to a land where onions don’t exist – and his life is turned inside out. It’s framed as a show for children, but it was important to us that we create a true family show: one that doesn’t condescend to its audience, one that people of all ages can enjoy!
Tell us about creating this show. Why did you choose this particular folktale to adapt into a play? What was it like to work as a mother-daughter writing duo?
My grandfather used to tell this story to my mother when she was a little girl, and he told it to me growing up as well. I think it holds a special place in both of our hearts. (My mother says she likes it because it isn’t a sentimental or didactic fairy-tale, but one with a bit of a sly, mischievous twist.) She was commissioned in 2014 to write a children’s show for Concrete Theatre’s Sprouts Festival and roped me in as co-writer and lyricist. Working as a mother-daughter writing team is useful in that we’re used to squabbling and making up again, and artistic differences aren’t going to wreck our relationship. (Also, it’s nice to work with someone who makes such excellent chicken soup with matzo balls.)
What do you hope this play leaves audiences with?
New appreciation for onions and garlic – the unsung heroes of cuisines around the world! (And also, a much-expanded Yiddish vocabulary.)
Anything else you want audiences to know about the show?
The songs are written and performed by Dave Clarke, one of Edmonton’s theatre legends. Be prepared to leave the show in the mood to sing, dance, and eat.