Review: ‘No address’ is on the street and in your home

In June, after a series of court battles, 60 men were moved out of Lucerne, an Upper West Side hotel that served as a shelter during the first year of the pandemic. Their presence has divided the neighborhood, with some residents starting to form Facebook groups to complain about how the men have reduced their quality of life, even as crime rates fall. Local crime did not increase significantly.

One of Lucerne’s residents, Shams DaBaron, who first experienced homelessness as a child, found himself representing his friends. At a rally in September 2020, he spoke up, saying: “Even though we are homeless We can do the right thing. Don’t criminalize us, don’t dehumanize us, let’s work together on both sides and make this work. “

Today, DaBaron has found another way to bring people together. One virtual. He is a star of “Addressless,” a theater and video game combo presented by Rattlestick Playwrights Theater. DaBaron plays Wallace, a single father in the shelter system. (DaBaron is now housed, but the character’s experiences mirror his own.) Other homeless characters are Joey Auzenne’s Louis, a veteran with untreated back problems; and Bianca Norwood’s Josie, a strange runaway teenager. The “Game Master” is Hope Beaver, a licensed social worker at a family shelter on the Lower East Side.

A creation by Martin Boross, a Budapest director and playwright Jonathan Payne, “Addressless” has empathy in mind. Its subtitle is “Walking in Our Shoes”. By dividing its audience into three groups, each assigned to a specific character, it asks us to participate in that character’s life choices. Usually, all the options offered are bad choices. The goal is for your character to have enough money and enough health points to enter a housing lottery. Held via Zoom, the show interspersed live performances and breakout room conversations with amateur footage.

There’s a clear tension between wanting to ignite empathy for the homeless and playing a situation game, reducing a person’s lifespan to “health points” and cash. (A smaller strain: participate in a housing crisis program from the comfort of your own home.) “Homeless” is difficult to demonstrate that people experience homelessness. Housing is more than just numbers on a caseworker’s chart. Then the program narrows them down to numbers anyway.

Victory becomes paramount, the experience of the disbeliever will be less. Auzenne and Norwood are trained actors who can disappear into characters. DaBaron and Beaver not only add to the friction between entertainment and education.

Games are often not fair play. (Then again, a state has put shelter into law but neither provides it nor is it fair game.) More annoyingly, “Addressless” doesn’t make for an adventure. chosen by you. premise. In the first part of the show, participants get to choose where the characters sleep – on the street, in a shelter, on a friend’s couch. Then the characters choose for themselves. Not always wise. But there are some possible dilemmas, such as whether Louis, who was injured during his internship, should return to work, risk his health, or take time off work for medical treatment. dangerous to continue his work.

For many New Yorkers, day-to-day interactions with homeless people will be defined by arm-spanning benevolence (donation of food or coats) or inconvenience (marketers on the train). Underground). Even if “No Address” sometimes sacrifices deep identity for its game structure, it wants us to do better, and the program’s chat function provides a list of resources to do so. that. Some participants seem ready to use them.

As the Sunday night show ended, one woman asserted herself. “My heart just breaks for everyone who goes through this,” she said.

No address
Streaming through February 13; creeplestick.org. Running time: 2 hours.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/21/theater/addressless-review.html Review: ‘No address’ is on the street and in your home

Fry Electronics Team

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