“Leftovers,” a Company One Theatre play written by Josh Wilder that explores black family life in an urban setting will premiere at the Strand Theatre in Uphams Corner this Saturday (July 21) at 7:30 p.m. and then run through Aug. 18.
The presentation centers around a black family from South Philadelphia whose lives change after a magical giant dandelion sprouts in their front yard.
This is the third and final production in Company One’s season-long exploration of the black male experience in America.
In an interview, the play’s director, Summer L. Williams, explained that the story will explore the fantasy genre from a different point of view. “It’s so rare that you get to experience a world of both reality and fantasy that focuses on the hearts of black young men,” she said. “This story is about their desire to become the people they feel they’re truly destined to be.”
“Leftovers” will be Company One’s second fully Pay-What-You-Wish production. There is a suggested admission fee of $10, but no set price charged for tickets.
Wilder, a Phildelphia native, cited his childhood experience in an underserved community as the inspiration for his play. “Growing up in the city as a young black man I felt like my dreams and my environment were at war,” he said. “Writing this play helped me understand why people in my neighborhood gave up, and it helped me heal the wounds I accumulated in my pursuit of my own dreams.”
Although the play is set in South Philadelphia, Wilder draws a direct line between his characters’ home and the community where “Leftovers” will be presented.
“I kinda feel like Jalil and Kwamaine live in Dorchester, too,” he said. “They probably walked past the Strand all the time, but never got the chance to go in. I want people that are local to Dorchester to just be like ‘Yo, the theatre is alive in this place.’”
This year is the centennial of the Strand Theatre, which first opened its doors in 1918 as a vaudeville palace and silent movie house. Its run as a movie theatre ended in the late 1960s. The city purchased the building in 1979 and in the following decades brought in major touring acts and established youth programming.
With “Leftovers,” Company One hopes to bring professional, boundary-breaking theatrical programming back into the Uphams Corner community while amplifying the work of local artists and community organizations through partnerships with the neighborhood’s Main Streets program, Uphams Corner UpMarket, the Hyde Square Task Force, and others.
The Company will also lead a six-week educational apprentice program for high school teens at the Strand alongside the professional production.
“I am so thrilled that together with Company One, we can pilot a creative youth development program to train the next generation of theater professionals at the Strand,” said the city’s chief of Arts and Culture, Julie Burros. “We also believe passionately in Company One’s efforts to advance the development of this emerging playwright, bring an exciting and culturally relevant new work to an underserved community, and breathe new life into the Strand Theater this summer.”
Performance schedule and tickets are available online at companyone.org.
CompanyOne Theatre opens residency at Strand
The mayor’s office announced this week that Dorchester’s Strand Theatre will be the new home of Company One Theatre, whose five-week residency at the Strand will begin with the premiere of the original play Leftovers on July 21.
“The City of Boston is thrilled to have Company One Theatre take up residence at this iconic theater in Upham’s Corner,” said Mayor Martin Walsh. “I look forward to seeing how their performance resonates with the local community and brings new life to the Strand as it approaches its centennial.”
A $3.4 million renovation project at the city-owned building on Columbia Road— including an elevator and upgrades to accessibility and fire prevention — was recently completed. Company One will be the first theater troupe to take up residence at the Strand since Fiddlehead Theatre, who occupied the space from 2013 to 2015.