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When Genne Murphy moved back to Philadelphia, she gave herself a weekly assignment to write short plays inspired by oft-overlooked public spaces.

"I was using it as a way to interact with the city, and to remind myself that there are stories literally around every corner," she says. "I was obsessed with the lonely places of Philadelphia — places that spoke to me when I was in them."

As the pages mounted, she discovered a common thread to many of the characters: loss and addiction. By 2009 her first full-length play, "Hope Street and Other Lonely Places," was born, featuring five lost souls culled from countless hours of inventing characters to weave into complex, urban, lonely landscapes.

Azuka Theatre snatched the script up in short order, and the play will begin previews this weekend, marking Murphy's first professional production.

Set amidst a collage of objects found on Philly streets, and featuring photography by Christopher Calucci, the play presents a series of interlocking vignettes, connecting pain and hope into both geographical and spiritual connections.

"It's hard for me to walk through Philadelphia without constantly connecting to memory," says Murphy. "I grew up here, so every street corner and trolley is filled with both the past and the present."


If you go


‘Hope Street and Other Lonely Places’

March 15-April 1

Off-Broad Street Theater/First Baptist Church

1636 Sansom St.

$15-$27, 215-563-1100

www.azukatheatre.org