by Chris Edwards for EastNewYork.com
East New York Caribbean-fusion restaurant, Fusion East, is lending its resources to theater nonprofit Ruth Stage to help produce a new play which shines a spotlight on issues veterans face. Fusion East , a Caribbean and soul food restaurant in East New York, is one of several veteran-owned businesses stepping up to fund the production of “Lone Star,” an off-Broadway play presented by theater by Ruth Stage Theater Company.
The play, which premiers next month, tells the story of Roy, a Vietnam War veteran trying to re-enter society while suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a common psychological condition in veterans who have experienced violent and life-threatening events.
While putting together the play, Ruth Stage Executive Director Matt De Rotagis sought support from veteran-owned businesses and organizations across the city. This led him to Andrew Walcott, a veteran and the owner of Fusion East.
“This sounded like a great way to get the word out about how veterans are doing,” said Walcott. Walcott, a life-long Brooklynite, served in the Air Force for two years and in the reserves for six years. He generously donated $500 to the play. “I’m a veteran. I know veterans who aren’t doing well, and I want to help get the word out in regard to veterans, especially Vietnam veterans who probably had it tougher than most,” Walcott said.
He also serves on New York City’s Veteran Advisory Board , which advises the city on issues that veterans face. “Most people don’t realize that we have an active military base here in Brooklyn, which is Fort Hamilton Army Base,” Walcott said. “Many New Yorkers have no idea that there are veterans right here amongst them every day.”
According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, 8% of veterans will suffer from the disorder at some point in their lifetime, and 87% of veterans reported exposure to at least one traumatic event during their service. On the opening night of the play, representatives from organizations Warrior Rising , VetLinks and Freedom Triangle will give talks about the grave issues that veterans face, like PTSD and
homelessness. But don’t worry — the play expertly balances serious topics with comedy.
“There’s a lot of light moments there’s a lot of humor in it as well,” De Rotagis, who will play Roy, said of the production.
Ruth Stage was founded in 2017 and operates as a nonprofit, relying on donations to stay afloat. Last year, the company staged a successful production of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” which received a positive review in the New York Times. But with rising costs due to inflation, De
Rotagis said it’s become difficult to make ends meet, making donors like Fusion East more crucial than ever.
Walcott is known for supporting the neighborhood by donating food from Fusion East to nearby organizations. However, his support of this play goes a step further.
“I don’t just operate a business here,” Walcott said. “I still live about five blocks away. So, I know what is needed in this area.”
“Lone Star” will open on Dec. 3 at Theatre Row, an off-Broadway theater in Hell’s Kitchen, located at 410 W. 42nd Street. The play will run through Dec. 23. Click here for more information about the play, and to purchase tickets.
Fusion East Restaurant is located at 1179 Elton St., in East New York, just steps from the Gateway Mall.