Musical-Drama / 4m, 5f, ensemble / Exterior / PG13 / runtime 2 hrs 30 mins
In Washington, DC at the cross sections of politics, religion, race relations, and socio-economic paradigms we primarily find 5 individuals dealing with various stages of, and reasons for homelessness. Queen – an evicted public housing resident, Richard – a military vet, TJ – LGBT lifestyle caused his homelessness, Booker T. – released from prison to the streets, and Melody – who is a teenage runaway. Their paths intertwine as they wrestle with the challenges of living on the streets and trying to figure out life. With a present day setting, U-Street is representative of the grittiness one would expect from life on the streets, albeit one that has been gentrified. The musical and dance numbers keep the pace of the production brisk, while providing a distinctly urban feel.
The series of events portrayed in the play cover a week in the lives of the main characters and as their personal stories are revealed we get a deeper understanding of their humanity: the good, the bad, and the ugly. The supporting cast provides a connection to society at-large; one which often time proceeds with blissful ignorance of the plight of those who are homeless. This murder mystery highlights the best and worst of society and our overwhelming homogeneity despite our constant assertions of being different and wholly separate. It underscores the reality that given the right conditions, anyone can rise or fall, and beckons the audience to undergo some introspection before casting judgment. Not every question is answered and the story-line is deliberately absent a resolution, because in reality, everything can’t be fixed, and there is not always a happy ending. The moral of the story is not revealed fully on stage but rather the hope is that the mind of the audience is illuminated and their perspective on homelessness is challenged. The final plea to, “keep looking out for someone else” is the clarion call that is left on the audience’s doorstep.
About The Playwright:
Jason A. Ellis, is a native Jamaican who has been heavily involved in the arts, and performing since the age of two. He has trained, and performed with three arts companies in Jamaica, and competed in national performing arts competitions. When he moved to the United States in 2001, he quickly got engaged in the theater scene, first in Memphis, TN and now principally based in the DC metro suburbs of Alexandria, VA. His passion for working with minority groups and those from a lower economic status has informed his writing, which he views as a tool to educate and empower. As a continuation of this commitment to the arts and underserved populations, Mr. Ellis is the founder and executive director of Momentum Collective Inc., a VA 501(c)3 arts focused organization serving low-income youth.
Though not expressly religious, his productions do take on a moral and faith-based tone, and generally lean on the side of comedic. He sees his writing as a platform to make social commentary and solicit candid conversations about heavily debatable subject matters. Having a background in theater, dance and voice, it is no surprise that he seeks to infuse all these art-forms in his theatrical productions, which never belie a distinctly Caribbean flavor. He credits his experience in performing in productions such as “Seven Guitars”, and “A Soldier’s Play”, in helping him develop his writing style. Starting back in 2011, this musical is the fifth in an ongoing series which examines the nuances and misnomers associated with various underserved groups in America, the previous productions being: “The Berg Diaries”, “Real Cuts”, “Promises” and “Senior Moments”. In 2017 he wrote and produced, “Not My Baby” which explored the triumphs and challenges of adoption.
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