In Wissinoming, family relives stories through theater performances

This is the second of a two-part series on Northeast Philadelphia families participating in This Town is a Mystery. The first part featured the McQueen family of Tacony.

Imagine welcoming complete strangers into your home and sharing your most personal stories with them.

Twice a week the Bostick family, of the 6100-block of Hegerman Street in Wissinoming, has done just that. Their performance is one of four that made up This Town is a Mystery, a showcase that explored the untold stories of households in Philadelphia.

When guests arrived to the Bostick household, they walked into the kitchen, where benches acted as theater seats and the dining room as the stage. Mom Lea, son Adam and daughter Princess performed pieces that walked the audience through stories of struggle, motivation and dedication. The performance began with a story about how hard work and a bit of luck sent Adam to California, only to realize that Philadelphia is where he belongs. Lea’s story depicted her dedication to Buddhism and memories of her mother, her grandmother and her childhood. The final story ,performed by Princess, recalled her struggles of living in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for seven months after her son Preston was born prematurely.

“I liked how intimate the environment was,” audience member, Justin Gebhard of Center City said as he sat down to the potluck dinner that followed the performance.

This Town Is a Mystery, directed by Headlong Dance Theater, was part of the 16th annual Philadelphia Live Arts Festival. Co-director Amy Smith credited her college Andrew Simonet for the idea. “Well I think it was Andrew’s brain child. He’s one of the three co-directors of Headlong. I remember he had the idea a few years ago. He said, ‘I drive around Philly and I’m looking in people’s windows and I’m just thinking about who lives in that house and what is their life like, who are they?’” Smith said.

Along with the Aryadareis of South Philly, Tobie Hoffman of Mount Airy and the McQueens of Mayfair, the Bosticks had a story that intrigued the directors. “All three of them are really kind and generous and loving family people,” Smith said, “and their family unit is so strong and so powerful, there is just so much love exuding out of their family.”

Lucia Volpe is a student reporting for Philadelphia Neighborhoods, the publication of Temple University’s Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab.

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal