Archive | January, 2016

“A Great Fit for Shakespeare in Clark Park”: West Philadelphian appointed to key role in popular outdoor theater company

January 29, 2016


                      Kittson O’Neill

As Shakespeare in Clark Park (SCP) is preparing for its 11th summer season, the company has announced that a West Philadelphian was appointed to a key role.

Kittson O’Neill, an actress and director who made her SCP debut last summer when she directed the 10th Anniversary production of The Winter’s Tale, has been named as the Artistic Director. She succeeds Marla Burkholder, who co-founded the company in 2005.

O’Neill has appeared on Philadelphia stages often and currently can be seen in Or, at Hedgerow Theatre. When directing The Winter’s Tale, she brought together professional actors, more than 20 local children, and an unforgettable bear puppet. The show drew almost 5,000 audience members to Clark Park.

“Kittson’s commitment to both a strong and progressive artistic vision and a high level of authentic community engagement makes her a great fit for Shakespeare in Clark Park,” says John Frisbee, SCP’s Board President.

We asked Kittson about her background, her relationship to West Philadelphia and her plans regarding Shakespeare in Clark Park, including community engagement. Her answers are below.

Q.: Where are you from and where in West Philadelphia do you live?

I was born in Connecticut and grew up there and in Western Australia (My Mum is Australian). I now live in Mantua in West Philadelphia. My son attended St. Mary’s Nursery School and, as a result, our family has a number of great friends who live all over West Philly.

Q.: What interests you in Shakespeare in Clark Park? Should people expect any changes?

There are so many things I love about Shakespeare in Clark Park!


In 2015 O’Neill directed SCP’s The Winter’s Tale, which featured children and a giant bear puppet (Photo West Philly Local).

Shakespeare’s plays are epic in scope: they have bears and battles and shipwrecks! It can be challenging to fully realize those elements inside a traditional modern theater, but out in the park you can embrace the huge and have an eight foot bear, or a hundred person army, or giant waves. I am excited to keep pushing our productions to use the size and freedom of the park setting: to be even more spectacular! But even more than the size of the park, I love the audience that it naturally attracts. The show is free. Seating is unrestricted and as a result we often attract watchers who hadn’t even planned to see the show. Who didn’t even know the show was happening. Every night, there is at least one audience member for whom it is the first Shakespeare they have ever seen. That’s an amazing gift to us as theater makers. And a responsibility we take seriously. We want that unexpected audience member to leave our show loving Shakespeare and hungry to see more.

shake4There won’t be any serious changes to what we do. “If it ain’t broke…” However, show is getting REALLY popular and dealing with the crowd we attract is becoming an exciting challenge, so you can expect some experiments with seating and staging as well as some new approaches to the fine art of ushering!

Q.: Community members, both adults and children, participated in the last two SCP performances. Will this trend continue?

Most definitely! I believe strongly in Radical Community Engagement, so over the next few years I will be working to weave the fabric of our community into the productions in a variety of ways. SCP attracts some of the finest theater talent in the city of Philadelphia. Putting the community on stage with those actors and inside the work of our designers and directors is an electrifying and galvanizing experience and one you won’t get any where else in our fair city. So stay tuned for a lot more on that front.

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Inaugural meeting of Cobbs Creek Neighbors Association set for Monday

January 29, 2016

The inaugural meeting of the Cobbs Creek Neighbors Association will be held Monday, Feb. 1 at the A.W. Christy Recreation Center (728 S. 55th St.), beginning at 7 p.m.

“Because we are a new group and still growing we are hoping to have an open discussion to hear what you would like to see more (or less) of in the community,” the group posted on its Facebook page.

The Cobbs Creek neighborhood is generally thought to be bounded by Market Street to the north, Baltimore Avenue to the south, east to 52nd Street and Cobbs Creek Parkway to the West. The public is invited. The agenda is open and might include discussion of development plans along 60th Street.


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60th Street Corridor news: major redevelopment project taking shape

January 28, 2016


Imperial Ballroom (Image source: Google Street View)

Revitalization efforts continue along the 60th Street Corridor, a once vibrant area which now has several deteriorating buildings and high vacancy. A major redevelopment project, first proposed by The Partnership Community Development Corporation six years ago, is finally taking shape.

The Imperial Ballroom, a 100-year-old theater building located near 60th and Chancellor, will be refurbished for retail use, according to a report by Philly Curbed. The project will also include the creation of an adjacent community park with an outdoor movie theater and construction of eight 2-bedroom apartments (two vacant buildings will be demolished to make room for these).

The 60th Street Corridor revitalization is a joint effort between Neighborhood Restoration/West Philadelphia Real Estate, a company that has been redeveloping properties in the area for the past 20 years with the goal of providing quality affordable housing, and The Partnership CDC, a non-profit in West Philadelphia. Initially, 21 new commercial storefronts and 60 units of affordable housing were planned along South 60th Street, but George Bantel of Neighborhood Restorations told Philly Curbed that they recently completed an 81-unit project on 45 scattered sites around the corridor to “to stabilize the corridor first.”

The developers are currently looking for potential tenants for the Ballroom. If everything goes according to the plan, the project should break ground in late 2016.

For more information about the 60th Street Corridor revitalization, visit:

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Adopt a Cat: Gracie

January 27, 2016


This week’s featured adoptable cat is Gracie, a young female domestic short-hair medium-size cat.

Gracie’s personality type is Private Investigator. Her curiosity knows no bounds; she is always finding the hidden nooks and corners of your home. Gracie is also a part­-time lover; she wants to be in the same room but gimme some space!

Classically attired in a black and white tuxedo this lady is all set for your next formal affair. In true formal fashion though she does require monogamy. No other cats, please. Other humans will be considered with an interview.

Gracie is an independent lady and quite serious about her responsibilities, however, don’t be fooled. With a little persuading of her heart, this girl opens up and just starts talking and talking and talking and then when truly at ease her freak flag flies and she bounces around like a kitten.

Gracie is neutered, FeLV and FIV negative, current with shots, treated for fleas and worms, and is litter box trained.

This cat is being fostered through the partnership of Project MEOW and PAWS.

To adopt Gracie, please complete and return a PAWS adoption application. It is available at the Baltimore Pet Shoppe (4532 Baltimore Ave.), or online at Application and adoption fee ($50.00) applies. Please use my number A30008400 when applying to adopt this cat.

For additional information, please contact:

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Student housing for foodies to open in Fall 2016 in Powelton

January 27, 2016


More details have been revealed about the new $20 million off-campus student housing project on the 4000 block of Baring Street in Powelton. An older three-story building at the corner of Baring and Preston was demolished at the end of last year to make room for the new project, called Good Food Flats.

GoodFoodFlatsKitchenThe new housing is intended for participants in Drexel University’s Hospitality and Sports Management (HSM) program and others who “really appreciate integrating food, health and well-being into their living environment,” according to the developer, Cross Properties.

Good Food Flats has an innovative design and will have some unique features, like a pop-up restaurant/entrepreneur incubator space and a food lab. Well-known Philadelphia chefs will be invited to teach classes in the facility’s commercial kitchen. There will also be urban garden spaces on the roof and backyard of the building where residents can grow their own fruits and vegetables. Other amenities include study lounges, a 24-hour fitness center, and WiFi and cable.

The building includes 44 fully furnished 4-bedroom/2-bath units (175 beds), which are moderately priced at $750-$850 per room per month. Good Food Flats is expected to open its doors for residents in Fall 2016.

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Shot fired during chase after aborted robbery near 50th and Chestnut

January 26, 2016

The intended victim of an aborted gunpoint robbery at about 10 p.m. Monday night near 50th and Chestnut decided to chase the suspect, who turned and fired a shot before continuing to flee on foot.

The victim, a 31-year-old male, told police he was walking along the 5000 block of Chestnut when another male put a gun to his back and said, “Give me your money.” When the victim turned, the suspect began walking away, likely because another pedestrian turned onto the block. As the suspect continued walking, the victim shouted that the man was armed and requested that the pedestrian call police. That’s when the suspect, who had a scarf over his face, fired a shot from a small handgun.

The victim continued chasing the suspect and lost sight of him hear 50th and Ludlow, according to a police report.

No injuries were reported.

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