I love hearing about all of the amazing women we have living & working in Philadelphia. For this addition of ‘Philly Lady You’ll Love,’ I got the scoop from theatre maven Allison Heishman. After seeing her new play, No Reservations, I couldn’t wait to hear more about the woman behind the scenes. Allison is doing big things in the Philly theatre scene, and she has some great picks for her favorite Philly spots. Let’s meet Allison . . .
HP: Hi Allison! Can you please introduce yourself & tell us what you’re all about?
AH: I’m the Artistic Associate at Azuka Theatre (1636 Sansom Street) and a freelance director here in Philly. My current project is directing the World Premiere of No Reservations, a holiday farce written by Josh Piven, the author of The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook Series. I spend most of my time in and around the incredible theaters in Philly, but I also enjoy hosting house parties, watching the Phils, camping when I can, and, if I’m really lucky, finding time for a good book and a good bourbon.
HP: What Philly neighborhood do you live in?
AH: South Philly. When I first moved to Philly I lived in Queen Village, then moved to Newbold, and now am one of the many artists who own a home in South Philly. I have a bright orange house a few blocks off of East Passyunk Square.
HP: What are some of your favorite Philly spots?
AH: I see a lot of theatre, I’m a Nominator for The Barrymore Awards so I get to experience all kinds of work, near and far. I try and see as many shows as I can, I’m a big fan of The Wilma (265 South Broad Street), Brat Productions (2040 Christian Street), Inis Nua (1636 Sansom Street), Simpatico Theatre (850 South 2nd Street), Theatre Exile (340 South 13th Street) and of course Azuka Theatre. If you’re not aware of the great and really affordable art that’s happening here in Philly, you’re missing out!
My favorite places to take visitors are The Magic Gardens (1020 South Street), The Mutter Museum (19 South 22nd Street) and The National Constitution Center (525 Arch Street) – all three speak to the uniqueness of Philadelphia and offer so many different and wonderful experiences. I discover something new each time I visit.
My two addictions right now are Underdogs‘ (132 South 17th Street // 1205 South 9th Street) My Thai Veggie ‘Haute Dogs’ and Honeycrisp Apples from Beechwood Orchards – you can find them at a number of Farmer’s Markets and they seriously have the best apples I’ve ever tasted.
I’m so lucky to live near the amazing East Passyunk Avenue! I hit nice things handmade (1731 East Passyunk Avenue) whenever I need a gift for someone.
I like to keep things low-key when I go out to eat or grab a drink. I love Watkins Drinkery (1712 South 10th Street) and Fergie’s (1214 Sansom Street) – not only does Fergus Carey serve up a spectacular pint, but he’s a huge supporter of the theatre community. And the Indonesian food at Hardena’s (1754 South Hicks Street) is the best kept secret in the city.
HP: Tell us about your current gig: what exactly does an Artistic Associate do?
AH: What doesn’t an Artistic Associate do? Truly it’s a little bit of everything, as a company member at Azuka Theatre, led by the incomparable Kevin Glaccum, I’m one of a mighty few that help keep the show running (yes, literally and figuratively). Right now I’m reading a lot of scripts for next season. We are committed to bringing new work to Philly Stages, we try and produce at least one World Premiere each season. The challenge is finding a fresh voice that also speaks to the work we want to do – our productions are usually centered around some really strange and quirky characters, the kids no one would sit with at lunch, because they’re always the most interesting!
HP: What has been your favorite project you’ve worked on?
AH: I’m really lucky that I’ve loved everything I’ve worked on. You put so much of yourself into each play that if you don’t love it, it just doesn’t make sense to go through that kind of insanity. One of my recent productions that holds my heart right now is Failure: A Love Story, by Philip Dawkins. Azuka did the East Coast Premiere and it was just such a special and beautiful play.
HP: What can we expect from No Reservations?
AH: This show is going to be a blast! We can barely get through some moments in rehearsal, we’re having that much fun with it. It’s smart and fun, I love what Josh created on the page, it’s a new, and I think welcome, alternative to the usual holiday entertainment. Pop-stars, partridges, Pennsyltucky . . . Twitter, TMZ and turkey dinner. There’s mistaken identity, scheming hostesses, and a band of Christmas caroling weirdos, all stuck at a B&B off the Turnpike on Christmas Eve. What could possibly go wrong?
HP: What advice would you give to young women pursuing their dreams?
AH: Go, go, go. Find what you love and figure out how to make it happen. I got started at Azuka stuffing envelopes because I lived around the corner from the office. I knew pretty quickly that it was where I wanted to be, and so I just kept coming back until I had made myself indispensable. Now it’s my artistic home. Find what you love, where you love to do it and then don’t give up til you make it happen. It’s hard work, absolutely, but dreams are worth it, everything else is second best.
HP: Anything else you’d like to share with the Her Philly readers?
AH: Come see No Reservations! You should also check out the Off-Broad Street Theatre App – it’s free and will make it super easy to access information about a number of the smaller theatre companies that are rocking the Philly scene. I’m also really excited about my next project – Skin & Bone, a World Premiere by Jacqueline Goldfinger, featuring three of Philly’s most dynamic actresses: Maureen Torsney-Weir, Drucie McDaniel and Amanda Schoonover (and the hilarious Nate Holt who holds his own ;))
A big thank you to Allison for her great insight into the Philadelphia theatre scene & chasing your dreams! If you’re interested in reading my last ‘Philly Lady You’ll Love’ feature, check out my interview with Luba Patlakh, creator of Fluff Apparel. If you know a woman you think deserves some Philly Lady love, email me! xx