Luna Stage in Association with Ping Chong and Company Presents
2.2 Square Miles of Soul: Voices of Orange
Written & Directed by Christina Bixland & Matthew Martinez
In collaboration with the Storytellers: Turron Kofi Alleyne (Creative Consultant), Tony Benevento, Theresa Borenstein, Robert Currie, Rebecca Doggett, and James A. Manning.
A powerful documentary film exploring the changing face of Orange, New Jersey, told through first-hand narratives of six former and current residents of Orange, as they reflect on the community they all still think of as home. Deeply personal and full of heart and humor, the project bears witness to some of the social, political, and economic forces that shaped the community over the course of the last century, including historic disinvestment, demographic change, and the fight for representative government. 2.2 Square Miles of Soul investigates the intersection of personal and political histories, as well as the resistance and resilience of the people of Orange.
2.2. Square Miles of Soul is a new work in Ping Chong and Company's Undesirable Elements series of interview-based theater productions examining the role of place, identity, and sense of belonging within communities. It was created at the invitation of, and in partnership with, Luna Stage's Secret Cities initiative, which commissions and produces new work inspired by local interviews and history in an ongoing collaboration between Luna and its surrounding communities.
I lived in Orange since the mid-80's. We moved around a little bit, but I always had a home to come to in Orange. And I’m still here! The home I grew up in was 407 Fairview Avenue, and out of all the places I lived, that home is special. Not just the house, but the block. There are so many stories and memories: the friends, the cookouts, the parties, the drama, the love... So much rich history. I still drive down that block sometimes and reflect. I even refer to my core-family as the 407 Crew. My favorite food in Orange is the Italian Cheeseburger from Sandwiches Unlimited! And what drew me to this project was my love for Orange, and the opportunity to highlight and showcase the good and GREAT things about our town. AKA Citrus Hill!
I came to Orange from Vauxhall in the Summer of 1941 and lived there until June 1953 when I entered the US Army. My family lived on Olcott Street - #361 on the second floor. My favorite foods in Orange were Gamba’s Italian sausage w/red pepper flakes, Musti’s Italian Submarines, and Hershey’s ice cream from Salvatore’s store on the corner of Reynolds & Ogden Streets! The Orange Memorial Library & The Embassy Theater were particularly special to me - we used to carry people’s shopping bags home from the grocery store to make enough money to go to the Saturday matinee at the Embassy. I wanted to join this project because I thought, being an older person, that my stories might be interesting to younger folks. Also, I have a love for theater that dates back to my college days!
I was born in Orange in 1941 and lived here until 1963 when I moved to Newark. My last Orange address was 45 Berwyn Street, and prior to that I lived in the Projects on 108 Parrow. My favorite places in Orange are Oakwood Avenue School and Woody's Funeral Home. They both bring back happy childhood memories. I was close friends with one of the Woody girls. We got into a lot of trouble together! The Orange foods I loved were Gamba's Italian hot dogs and Ma Maybin's fried chicken and rolls. I always felt loved and nurtured in this town, and I wanted to join this project to share some good memories of growing up in Orange.
I lived in Orange from 1951 - 1975, first at 81 Parrow Street but after 280 took out our house we moved to 102 Elm Street. One of my favorite spots in town was The Outpost - for social gatherings and basketball. Gamba’s hot dog and Ms. Maybins hamburgers were some of my local favorites. I was drawn to this project by the chance to hear and learn from other’s stories; especially about the impact of the construction of 280.
I moved from Newark to Orange as a child, after the riots/uprisings in 1967. We lived at the corner of North Center St. and William St.. William St. became the most special place to me in Orange - I grew up there, some of my children grew up there, and the neighborhood just felt like family. (Still does, even though now I live on Day Street.) My favorite place to get food in Orange is Pizza Center on Main Street! I liked the idea of this project - my hope in doing it was that people would learn about some of the needs of the young people in this community.
I was born and raised in Orange. We lived all over, including the projects at 340 Grey Street. But the place that’s the most special to me in Orange is Paulie's (also known as John’s Market) on the corner of So. Essex Avenue and Freeway Drive East, because all the guys from the neighborhood still go there and hangout. In my opinion, Busy Bees on Cleveland Street had the best Italian hot dogs. Sharing my love for Orange is what drew me to this project!