THE STIGMA and attitudes surrounding homelessness were addressed at a sell-out theatre performance in Stratford at the weekend.
The premiere of Streets Apart at Stratford Playhouse was inspired by the experiences of homeless people in the town and written by local playwright Jackie Lines.
The cast included those who have either been homeless or supported those that had – bridging the gap between stage and street, along with poetry and songs written by cast members and those who use Stratford District Council’s Link Project drop-in centre.
Snapshots of street-life, from the temptation of drugs to mental health issues to less obvious inner demons, such as childhood trauma, offered an insight to the difficulties faced by those experiencing homeless.
But the overall message crept soundly into the conscience of most of us who have ever avoided eye contact or shuffled past someone whose baggage is a lot more than the scant belongings around them.
While some characters found their happy ending with support and encouragement from good Samaritans, others whose demons loomed large, were not so lucky.
But the finale is as moving as it is brutal, with members of Stratford’s homeless community joining the cast on stage for a song written by the Link service-users.
The wider event included a photo exhibition of the homeless community around Stratford and Leamington and stalls from charities including ‘Socks and Chocs’ set up by ex-serviceman Ian Northcott.
Writer Jackie Lines was pleased by the reaction from audience members.
She said: “We were delighted and thrilled to see the turnout and greatly heartened to see that so many people in our community were in support of the homeless issues. Many told us that we had given them an insight that they hadn’t had prior to the play and that they were keen to go on to help more proactively.”
“The cast were thrilled with their standing ovations and are all deeply committed to the issues. I will now be looking to offer it out to schools and colleges – when I have time!”
Visit streetsapart.impressionpr.net for more information about the play and helping the homeless community.