Much ado about a play that stars homeless people

METRO VANCOUVER — A Vancouver-based play starring people who have been homeless or are the brink of homelessness is coming to Surrey this Friday, in conjunction with Homelessness Action Week.

“We could all be homeless. People can be homeless for so many different reasons," said Luisa Jojic, a Vancouver-based actress and director involved in the project.

"The goal is to bring awareness… and to empathize with someone living on the street or dealing with mental health of addictions issues, to humanize these people."

She and Aaron Munro, with RainCity Housing and Support Society, came up with the idea for the show, called Much Ado About Something.

Created in partnership with Jojic, RainCity, the City of Vancouver and the Community Arts Council, the theatre project is intended to encourage dialogue and new understandings around the issue of homelessness.

The play stars 10 people who all reside in the Downtown Eastside, Jojic said, some who are formerly homeless and some who are currently vulnerably housed.

It incorporates many Shakespearean elements, she noted, with a scene borrowed from Twelfth Night and a monologue from King Lear.

There are also famous lines worked into the show. Instead of the well-known “To be or not to be” the play asks: “To care or not to care? To house or not to house? To change or not to change? That is the question.”

Even though it borrows from theatre classics, Jojic said it’s truly its own show.

“We’ve definitely put our own twist on it,” she noted, adding it deals with not only homelessness, but belonging and identity as well.

While those themes are important to all cities, Jojic believes they are particularly important in Vancouver and Surrey, adding the City of Surrey expressed a desire they bring the show to town.

“We want to create openness to working together to create change,” she said of the show’s goal. “We’re all responsible for it together. There’s no longer a divide between us and them.”

For Jojic, it’s been an extraordinary experience working on the play.

“It’s a really powerful project.”

A free show for low-income folks was held at Carnegie Centre on Oct. 14, and another showing is set for tonight (Oct. 16) at Waterfront Theatre at 7 p.m.

The show comes to Surrey this Friday, Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. at the Kwantlen Park Secondary theatre, located at 10441 132nd St.

Ticket info at www.raincityhousing.org.

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