"I wrote this show because I believe storytelling is an antidote to apathy,” says Michael S. Gellman ’17, creator and director of “HOME,” a new HRDC production that runs Nov. 12-19 in the Loeb Ex. This original, student-written play focuses on the challenges facing homeless youth. The cast hopes the play will raise social awareness of homelessness in Harvard Square; all proceeds will be donated to Y2Y, the new local homeless shelter for youth.
The play is based on interviews with homeless individuals in Harvard Square. “I was really interested specifically in the power of narrative and using the written and spoken word to both empower the group of people who are unfortunately marginalized in our society and allow others who are not as connected to this group of people…to understand their lived experiences,” Gellman says. The cast is an ensemble of four actors, who transition between playing homeless characters, third party narrators, and themselves in order to encompass a wide variety of interactions.
The cast hopes the play will leave an impression on viewers. “There are some real heavy themes around sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, addiction, depression, mental health, and other health issues,” Gellman says. At the same time, he believes the play will transcend a mere consideration of these obstacles. “More than just the tragedy, what’s impactful is how genuine, intelligent, interesting, and passionate these people are,” Gellman says. Through this play, he hopes that the audience will be encouraged to see the homeless as real, three-dimensional human beings with stories, aspirations, and unique personalities.
As a result of the play, the actors have found themselves increasingly invested in the problem of youth homelessness. “Part of it that’s challenging is that we’re learning so much about this issue… [it] is going to continue after the lights go down and the audience leaves,” says actress Nina C. Sapers ’17. For the cast, the challenge of the play lies not only in successfully putting on the production but also in handling the emotional effects of becoming so deeply involved in the issue.
“HOME” hopes to address the reality of homelessness in the Harvard Square area in a new way, a goal to which the entire cast is deeply committed. “There is a reason we’re doing this—it’s not just for our own indulgence, we’re not just there for the joy of acting. I think this issue is important to all of us for our own reasons,” says actress Sara Bobok ’19. Through its dedicated cast and true-to-life subject material, “HOME” aims to provide a deeply authentic and unique take on the reality of being homeless as a young person.
Harvard’s Homelessness DilemmaHarvard could allocate more funding to the Square’s three homeless shelters and help develop the necessary programs to get homeless individuals on their feet. Harvard could also help in terms of housing.
City Officials Consider Progress in Ending Veteran HomelessnessFollowing Boston Mayor Marty J. Walsh’s pronounced commitment to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015, city officials said Boston has made “tremendous progress.”
Y2Y Youth Homeless Shelter Celebrates Upcoming Opening
Cambridge Homeless Prepare for Winter
A Facilitating StepA public toilet is set to open in Harvard Square in the coming weeks. It marks a step in the right direction, but also points to the work still to be done regarding the Square's homeless population.