Fringe Festival: "H Street Housewives" debut

Kevin Peck, "Arnold" Photo: Kristy Simmons

You probably remember Bravo’s short-lived “Real Housewives of D.C.”. Well if you loved the drama that oozed out of that Washington-based reality show, you’re going to love the characters in “H Street Housewives”. The play showcases four housewives, one reunion, and one of D.C.’s hippest neighborhoods.

ABC7 tossed a few questions at the writer and producer of “H Street Housewives”. And as you’ll see, Jenny Splitter isn’t shy about her inspirations or her spicy characters.

ABC7: First, the obvious question. Any inspiration from Bravo’s “Real Housewives” for your “H Street Housewives”?

Jenny: Yes! I'm a huge “Housewives” fan. My favorites are the “Atlanta Housewives” and “Beverly Hills”, though I've come back around to the women of “Orange County” this year. The high drama of reality television seemed to marry quite nicely with the high drama of life around H Street NE.

ABC7: What kind of dramas unfold on “H Street”?

Jenny: We have a housewife with a secret identity, a philandering househusband and a plot to change the neighborhood forever. Since H Street has undergone a lot of rapid change in recent years, it seemed timely to explore what people appreciate and hope for in a neighborhood. We explore themes that reflect life in D.C. like urban parenting, gentrification and how we talk about race, and we also play with the idea of what it means to be "real."

ABC7: As a writer, where did you get your inspiration?

Jenny: I suppose I was inspired by the over-the-top drama in both reality television and life as a parent in D.C. Parenting listservs bring out the best and the craziest in people! I love writing over-the-top crazy characters, and our cast did not let me down!

I love my neighborhood, but I also feel like many of us are grappling with difficult questions as the neighborhood continues to change, and I think “H Street Housewives” reflects that.

ABC7: “H Street” is part of this year’s Fringe Festival. Is FF a good place for local writers presenting material with a local edge?

Jenny: Absolutely! We've had an amazing response. I included plenty of inside jokes and references for people familiar with H Street, so I'm hopeful we get a good turn out from the neighborhood!

Capital Fringe is so supportive of emerging artists. Also, I feel incredibly lucky to have benefited from the storytelling community in D.C., and also the playwrights' community here. There are so many amazing and supportive people. It's a great place to be a writer.

Now that we’ve heard from the writer and producer of “H Street Housewives”, it’s time to pick the brain of one of its characters! Kevin Peck plays “Arnold”, a married, non-discriminating, sex-addict. Wow!

ABC7: What should audiences know about this play before they attend?

Kevin: Housewives pokes fun at D.C. listservs, and exposes the polarities in socially sensitive issues with humor and subtlety. It's also a parody of the franchise phenomenon and the gentrification of H Street.

ABC7: What’s it like doing a play that has so many local tie-ins?

Kevin: I’m an Alexandrian, so a few of the H Street references had to be clarified. And working for The Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association at the Athenaeum, I regularly keep an eye out for performers and artists who reflect our community. With H Street, I enjoy being part of an edgy, eye-opening, and humorous take on one of D.C's most popular neighborhoods.

ABC7: This is your first Fringe Festival. Why do you feel this festival is so unique?

Kevin: Capital Fringe is in its 8th Year and has gained increasing credibility as a showcase of great works by emerging playwrights and companies. The word is out that Fringe is reputable, gains the attention of more established theaters in our area - and thus creates opportunities for these artists, and gets better and better every year. Jenny Splitter's premier of “H Street Housewives” is truly the best example of that.

"H Street Housewives" debuts this Sunday, July 14th at 5:15 p.m. at Fort Fringe. The Redrum Theater is located at 612 L Street NW.