The Community Connection
‘Healing on High Street’ to highlight Pottstown’s stories
POTTSTOWN » Since human beings first developed language, we have communicated through stories.
Whether it was around a fire, on a stage under the glare of the limelight, or on our most recent Netflix binge, stories help us understand who we are and what we’ve been through.
And this past year, the nation, and Pottstown have been through a lot.
Now, as it eyes a safe reopening sometime in the future, Pottstown’s own Steel River Playhouse wants to tell the stories of what Pottstown has been through, with a particular focus on the twin crises of the past year — COVID-19 and race and the Black Lives Matter movement.
The project is called “Healing on High Street” and it’s supported by a grant from the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation.
The idea, said Artistic Director Leena Devlin, is to train a few people to interview others and elicit the stories of the people of Pottstown and “amplify voices that often remain unheard.”
This project will bring together a team with an interest in transformational storytelling, social justice and diversity, according to a press release issued by the theater and school.
And it will bring in a professional storyteller — Brie Knight, an award-winning Philadelphiabased playwright.
Her works have been featured at InterAct Theatre, Eagle Theatre, PlayPenn, The Philadelphia Women’s Theatre Festival, and more around the country. She is a graduate of the Philadelphia Playwright’s Incubator — The Foundry.
Knight’s play “Pancake Queen,” has won numerous awards, including the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre’s Inaugural Playwriting Competition.
“This is a project that has great potential for us to connect through conversation, to heal, to learn, and grow as a community and as humans. But above all, as the playwright, what I am most eager to shine a light on and uplift are the people of Pottstown,” Knight said in a press release.
“I am excited to explore the heart and soul of this city and learn from its people, and to use theatre as a tool for community engagement and dialogue. This is a play for the people of Pottstown by the people of Pottstown,” she said.
Several community organizations will participate including, but not limited to the Pottstown School District, Montgomery County Community College, PAID and The
This “storytelling initiative will be a unique way to highlight unknown community voices and personal stories from Pottstown residents,” said David Charles, co-founder and executive director of the STRIVE Initiative. “We are excited to assist our community partner in this endeavor.”
In the coming months participants will be training and planning the community outreach. Community interviews will be conducted over the summer and fall months, followed by auditions and performance preparation.
“Ultimately, I see a play, either a single story or multiple stories,” said Dev- lin. “But we’ll have to see how it unfolds, and let the stories drive the process.”