Theater group The Renegade Company and residents of the River Wards are developing a performance that will tackle the issues of substance abuse, homelessness and unemployment that impact their neighborhoods.
The production, inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s “Old Man and the Sea” and called “The Olde Man and the Delaware River,” will seek to communicate the individual goals of community members, the aspirations they have for Kensington and the steps needed to get there.
The performers for this project will be community members themselves. The resulting production will be a free walking tour of the River Wards during Fringe Festival.
Residents of Kensington, Harrowgate, Somerset and Port Richmond are encouraged to engage with a series of workshops occurring from now until fall, to be held at various locations — a block party, potlucks, sign-making gatherings — and “will be a blend of community story sharing and creation of the production,” according to a press release.
Renegade has already conducted a number of oral histories with community members and performed several “performance interactions” in Center City and Kensington last month at locations such as Rosa’s Fresh Pizza on 11th Street and Emerald Street Bridge to engage the public in conversation about addiction and homelessness.
Renegade hopes to pick 12 River Wards residents to develop the production, and according to Renegade Artistic Director Mike Durkin, the group had four as of mid-February.
The production’s homebase is at the Kensington Storefront, thanks to partnerships with Impact Services and Mural Arts’ Porchlight Project.
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