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Friday, October 16, 2009

A Stage Where the Homeless Star

By New York Times writer, Robert Dubrow

ONE man is in recovery from crack-cocaine addiction. Another recently completed a four-year prison term. A woman struggles with manic depression.

They are all members of New Haven's Homeless Theater Troupe, a collaboration between homeless and formerly homeless individuals and Yale University students. The troupe's new play, which recently had its premiere in a church basement before an enthusiastic audience, offers the message that through faith in God, human beings can overcome addictions and other demons, to fulfill their potential as individuals.

The troupe was founded in February 1997 by a Yale student, Jane Chen, to give homeless people the opportunity to develop self-sufficiency by getting involved in theater, to give them a voice in the community, to break down stereotypes, and to educate audiences about homelessness.

One of the performers is Andree Thompson, a 28-year-old man who has been with the troupe for over a year. When he joined, he was staying at the Columbus House shelter. He moved into his own apartment in December, after being homeless for 10 years. A month later he was hired as actor-director of the troupe, through a grant from the Haymarket People's Fund.

''I had a college background and I'm homeless,'' says Judy White, who became homeless two years ago, when losing her job, apartment and custody of her daughter sent her into a deep depression. ''It doesn't matter who you are. Situations can occur in your life that you cannot handle, and you fall down.'' But both students and homeless agree that homeless people cannot be stereotyped. ''Homeless people come in all shapes and sizes,'' Ms. White says.

For Krissy Clark, a Yale sophomore, the most important aspect of working with the troupe has been the personal connections with homeless people -- ''just having them be my friends, rather than people I helped or pitied or felt awkward around.''

Please take a moment to donate online to Homeless In America's Halloween StreetReach for homeless living under the bridges and in alleyways. There is a need for water sponsors, $20 - food sponsors, $125 and monthly sponsors are needed for van insurance $50 and operation/upkeep $300. God bless you for your compassion and help for the 100s of Homeless In America we serve. Kindness and compassion in increments of $10 at -

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