Photos credited to: Lyndon Taylor
“What are we scared of? We are not that different. Homelessness is not a disease; it’s a state of here and now.”
Those were words uttered by Armani D’Lawrence as he performed an original spoken word poetry piece to open up U-Street, The Musical.
From the website: U-Street, The Musical is a journey into the lives and minds of individuals who have found themselves living on the street and navigating the world of homelessness. Often dehumanized, Ellis delivers the homeless characters as chunks of clay – chunks of creativity molded by life’s complexity and humor – continually forming as life goes on.
I saw U Street the musical this month in its final weekend at the Richard Kauffman Auditorium in the Lee Cultural center in Alexandria. I wasn’t a huge fan of musicals as a kid, but my appreciation for them have been growing over the years. What drew my interest for this performance was its topic and the fact that I’m a supporter of efforts to decrease homelessness in the DMV. Jason Ellis also has Jamaican roots and the influence of reggae throughout the musical was a pleasant surprise.
Other surprises were the number of topics woven into the plot. Subjects ranging from equality between genders and American greed, to more political areas like the plight of war veterans and illegal immigration, U-Street, The Musical was able to touch a few places in the hearts of us all.
Ellis said the he hoped the community gets more than a couple of hours of entertainment. “U-Street is also You-street, meaning everyone could find themselves homeless so we should treat people who are homeless with decency and dignity.: He added, “ America’s greatness is seen through the lens of how it takes care of the least who have struggled to attain the American dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
The musical has ended its shows, but the seriousness of homelessness continues. Our roles now are to continue the conversation and the WORK to address homelessness as well as be understanding in our views of those in this community. Also, be sure to stay connected with www.ustreetmusical.wordpress.com as there’s work being done to bring the show to other locations across the country. If you support local theater, minority perspective or just good causes overall, then connect with Ellis and pledge your support!
Today, I’m thankful for those with enough courage to use their voices to speak to others.