On Monday, the cast and I were able to take a guided tour of the Route 1 Day Resource Center. It’s just about 5 miles down the road from the theatre.
Personally, I’ve driven past it hundreds of times and I had no idea it was there. Thanks to this information age I was able to connect with Jennifer Walls. She’s been working with the homeless for decades. Her work is extensive but it also includes Elizabeth House in Laurel. Jen generously took us into the Grassroots facility on Monday. She made it very clear to us that behind every name and every face, there was a unique story. She showed us this facility. We were offered food and encouraged to sit and talk.
None of us wanted to eat the food set aside for these people who only have access to this facility three times a week. We didn’t want to further their burden. But, part of what Jen was trying to teach us had a lot to do with dignity and true fellowship. What does it mean to see another human being and to hear their story? In a biblical sense, to break bread. She recommended a documentary The Homestretch about all of this that would help us to understand what can only be described as an alternate universe to those of us who have always assumed a roof over our heads.
It’s hard to talk about it, even these days later. So, we will take a page from Jen’s book and offer up some action.
Garbage Kids by Jayme Kilburn opens on May 19th. On that day we will lift the hood of the VW bug in the lobby and turn it into a receptacle for donations to the grassroots organization. As you can imagine, it takes a team of people to oversee their inventory. And the needs quite literally change with the weather. Bug spray is something they can use as the mosquitos come out. And while they offer some non-invasive medical services, they are in need of a Dentist. We are told their clients will simply take a pair of pliers and remove a tooth if it becomes too painful or cumbersome. Anyway Jen tells me this list changes each month, so it’s good to check in with their website for the latest, Route 1 Day Resource Center.
I saw a woman with a black eye. That might be the image that haunts me the most. But, more than that I saw human spirit in that building. People helping other people. And, not because the situations were ideal, but because there was a true respect for other human beings living their story, even in the dark moments. Jen told us that one study showed that a percentage of people in the US have the same emotional response to a homeless person as they do to a piece of furniture.
Jayme Kilburn has written this script as a memory in the first act and as naturalism in the second act. We’ve been wrapping our brains around this for three weeks now. She’s so brilliant. The first act allows us to really explore a distortion in terms of perspective and a playfulness in terms of the human spirit. This amps up in the face of darkness.
Garbage Kids is a world premiere and we have volunteer opportunities and would love for more people to attend the shows. So, let me know if you’d like to see it. Tickets remain at our low low $20 and we can always work something out if that’s too much. We believe theatre should be accessible to everyone!
As with Jayme’s last play, Ding, this one has a compression of short scenes that make up a rhythm and flow that audience members will find entertaining and exciting in the first act. It’s been an incredible exploration. The second act has a different tone. Full of internal rhythms and an external stillness. It inverts on itself. The acts in some ways represent the difference in the rhythms between childhood and adulthood.
Maybe the reason I love theatrical arts the most is because they are machines of alchemy. We are looking at some dark subject but we are full of light and covered in color. This play, I think, is an honest look at the hurdles and struggles of life on the street for kids. But, even more than that, it’s a celebration of the human spirit. This comes through Jayme’s pen and our creative process. It’s a story that isn’t told with this kind of honesty. At least I’ve never read or seen it.
It teaches me every day.
Today it says, if you are breathing air you can do anything.