Theatre Horizon’s Art Houses program has announced its second show.
The Norristown establishment created the innovative series—which partners professional theatre artists with families and households throughout the Greater Philadelphia region—last year. The original performance works are shown on a monthly basis, with this month’s show coming from Gary Cohen, a long-time South Philadelphia resident and deli owner.
The show is described as “part cooking show, part stand-up comedy, part fireside chat” asking the question of: “What do we hold most dear and what gets sent down the garbage disposal?”
“Gary brims with stories from 40 years in his house, where he raised a family and supported his thriving deli business next door,” says Theatre Horizon Artistic Director Nell Bang-Jensen in a statement. “We are thrilled to present his program as part of our Art Houses initiative, and to share Gary’s humorous and heartfelt story with our audiences.”
Bang-Jensen was the spearhead for the theatre’s new initiative as a way to produce art during quarantine and combat feelings of isolation. Art House performances are rehearsed and performed online, giving participants the opportunity to experience a professional theater process from the comfort and safety of their home. The content of the shows vary depending on each household’s story and may include scenes, songs, monologues and poetry.
For Cohen, his story was inspired around his community in South Philly.
“There is a lot of coolness in my home,” says Cohen in a statement. “Theatre Horizon and the Art Houses program are kind enough to give me a platform to let people know how much fun having a house in South Philly is.”
According to a release, Cohen was born in Kingston, Pennsylvania, and after completing high school, he and his wife moved to Philadelphia for work opportunities. In 1986, he opened his popular take-out restaurant in South Philadelphia, which served the community until 2008, when Cohen decided to close the restaurant. Since then, Cohen has become a commercial driver and went to work with SEPTA. All the while, he has lived in the same house in South Philly for over 40 years, which has amassed stories and memories as only he can share.
Cohen came with the ideas, but the theatre was able to provide the means to produce the show. Each Creative/Artistic Team working with participants such as Cohen consist of one Team Leader (a director with experience in marking original work and working with community members who are engaged in theater-making) and one Writer/Dramaturg, who will serve to document the process and ultimately create a final script based on generative exercises and prompts.
For Cohen’s Art Houses program, Johanna Kasimow will be directing in collaboration with Eva Steinmetz. Cohen will perform his original work live from his home on the Zoom platform for one performance only, which takes place on Jan. 30, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at theatrehorizon.org, and Zoom links to the show will be sent out after purchase.