A PLAYWRIGHT is helping homeless people find a voice in her new play ‘Streets Apart’.
Jackie Lines from Stratford decided to write the play after visiting the Link Project drop-in centre in the town.
She and her friend Doug Armstrong – who runs songwriting workshops at the centre – discussed the idea before Jackie decided to incorporate the stories she heard at the centre into a script.
The comedy writer’s last work ‘Whisking Eggs’ – about a vicar wife and a menopausal professional – was performed at the Bear Pit theatre in Stratford last year.
She said: “I was thinking about the next play and what direction I would go in. I had no plans to write anything serious.
“But I felt that if there was one contribution I could make, it would be to write a play where I could give these often misunderstood people a voice and help them explain how their situations have come about and how they are powerless to change them.
“The stories I heard were heart-breaking but each time someone honoured me with an open and honest description of how they came to be there, I knew that these good people deserved more.”
The play will be premiered at Stratford Playhouse this spring, as part of a wider event which will include poetry readings and music from service users, an art exhibition and stalls for homeless and addiction support organisations.
The play tells the story of two street sleepers helped by a local drop-in centre. It also features a soup kitchen, a struggle against drug-dealers and other scenes familiar to those on the streets and frequently in the headlines.
The cast are all local with connections to homelessness either as someone who has experienced it directly or in a supporting role.
Jackie will include voice-overs for those who wanted to be heard but did not want to or could not appear at the event, and the play also features specially penned songs by the centre’s ‘Link Guys’.
She added: “I wanted to incorporate experiences I’d heard about at the centre to bring the community closer together, raise awareness and help the public understand who they are and the daily struggles they face.
“It shows two opposite sides of life represented across all mediums of art.
“I wanted to address the most resounding questions asked by public like ‘are they genuine’? ‘Should I give them money’? People feel powerless and unable to help others who are really just like themselves. I want the event to help them understand how to work alongside the homeless community.”
The writer is crowdfunding for the event and for charities and organisations offering support to homeless people and to those struggling with their health and daily living.
The play can be seen on April 6 and 7.
Visit stratfordplay.co.uk to book tickets and visit www.gofundme.com and search Streets Apart to donate to the project.