Housing Collapse (Literally) Is The Basis For Sylvan Oswald’s Profanity


Undermain will open its 30th season with the world premiere of Sylvan Oswald’s play Profanity.  One of a series of plays Oswald set in the past of his native Philadelphia, Profanity tells the story of a family real estate business (inspired by Oswald’s own uncles) profiting from the sale of houses built on ash.

In preparation for the production, Oswald was kind enough to send us recent articles on the history of these sunken houses in Philadelphia.  Links below.

A History Of The Sinking Houses Of Logan by Natalie Pompilio

“Sinking Feeling” by Samantha Melamed for the Philadelphia City Paper

As Oswald said himself in a video advertisement for the play, the image of all these houses sinking, physically cracking down the center, leaving gaping holes into the earth is one fitting for Greek tragedy.  It has such symbolic potency, in fact, that Oswald is mostly able to let the facts speak plainly in the script, and their metaphorical shadows stretch out unforced, darkening the familial and moral drama around them.

Featured Imaged: Logan Triangle undeveloped lots, as seen from above.  Picture taken from City Of Philadelphia Office Of Housing And Community Development website.