FOR THE NEW CITY'S DREAM UP FESTIVAL PRESENTS "THE HOUSE OF CHARITY,"
WRITTEN BY ANDRE DEGAS AND DIRECTED BY JONATHAN SCHWOLSKY
NEW YORK, August 7 -- It's the biggest night of the year at The House of Charity soup kitchen. Can the kitchen staff of recovering addicts and alcoholics band together to feed the record crowd and convince wealthy donors that The House truly is fulfilling its mission of love and kindness? In "The House of Charity," written by Andre F. Degas, we come face-to-face with the reality of addiction and the road back to hope. A group of men -- addicts in recovery -- under the guidance of an angelic female counselor, band together despite their differences, for one night. Each has been to hell and back, and is now finding strength in their greatest challenge yet -- getting sober and coming to respect each other. Jonathan Schwolsky directs this world premiere.
"The House of Charity" by Andre F. Degas is a hyper realistic, racially and sexually charged drama set in a fast-paced working environment, bursting with expressionistic scenic media. The play opens with the residents of the institution bickering, throwing racist and homophobic slurs around and making attempts to undermine each other at every turn. Political strategies play out as some grapple desperately for power, while others just want an hour off so they can see their kids. Issues of responsibility and loyalty arise as a group of men attempt to run a professional kitchen to feed a crowd of hundreds. Will they come together and cast aside their differences for the sake of the less fortunate? The play addresses serious issues about addiction and recovery. It is dedicated to the men and women who are healing their lives with faith, service and love.
The play has been read at The Flea Theater, La MaMa Theater and The Dramatists Guild. The actors are Brendan Ryan, Nixon Cesar, Ivan Goris, Peter Halpin, Andrew Oakes, Patrick Faerber, and Jaleesa Capri. Production design is by Lucas Wilson Spiro.
Andre Degas wrote "The House of Charity" in 2012 under the mentorship of Richard Schotter, MFA professor at Queens College. Degas is a filmmaker and theater director who began his career touring with the National Shakespeare Company and The Alabama Shakespeare Festival as a recent graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He then turned to writing and directing, and in 1999 was asked by renowned Finnish filmmaker Mika Kaurismaki to direct his screenplay, "Condition Red," which aired on HBO. Degas then wrote and directed a one-hour TV drama about his Egyptian roots, entitled "The Kitchen." It was shown on American Playhouse and Reel New York and garnered nine million viewers on PBS. His screenplay (currently in production), "Crossing The Line," was developed by a Diversity Development fund from ITVS and in 2016 received a grant from The New York State Council On The Arts. Degas holds an MFA in Film Studies from Hollins University and is an adjunct professor at Queens College where he teaches Creative Writing. He also works at the Mark Morris Dance Group in Brooklyn as a Latin Dance Instructor.
Jonathan Schwolsky is a NYC-based director, filmmaker, producer, visual artist and designer. Known for his well-rounded, grassroots approach to collaborative performance making, Schwolsky has created content in a variety of mediums, with award-winning artists from all over the globe, under the moniker EggSalad Productions. "The House of Charity" is his second Off-Broadway production in as many years, and is an example of his purposeful intent to psychologically as well as environmentally grip his audiences.
The cast includes
Brendan Ryan, Nixon Cesar, Ivan Goris, Peter Halpin, Andrew Oakes, Patrick
The eighth annual Dream Up Festival (www.dreamupfestival.org) is being presented by Theater for the New City from August 27 to September 17. An ultimate new work festival, it is dedicated to the joy of discovering new authors and edgy, innovative performances. Audiences savor the excitement, awe, passion, challenge and intrigue of new plays from around the country and around the world.
The festival does not seek out traditional scripts that are presented in a traditional way. It selects works that push new ideas to the forefront, challenge audience expectations and make us question our understanding of how art illuminates the world around us.
A unique and varied selection of productions will again be offered that draw upon a variety of performance specialties including singing, clowning, poetry, street music, magic and movement. The Festival's founders, Crystal Field and Michael Scott-Price, feel this is especially needed in our present time of declining donations to the arts, grants not being awarded due to market conditions, and arts funding cuts on almost every level across the country and abroad.
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