When I went to see Girl Talk Theatre I didn’t know if I would enjoy it or not. Lately I’ve been to see some theater that was very transforming and helpful to the people creating it, and or a small part of audience but not as relevant to the rest of us who were there. I support the use of theater in healing and transformation one thousand percent, and I will sit through theatrical works of this nature because I believe the audience is an essential for the cyclical energy of live performance to exist. I’ll continue to watch these things even if I enjoy them less than more polished productions created by professional artists. I can support it for what it is even if I only mildly like it.
This was not the experience at Girl Talk Theatre’s Shelter from the Storm The production was made up of a series of mini-plays, spoken chorus, mock interviews, and stories told by an ensemble of women who were ,and are homeless. The first mini-play “The Bed Lottery” introduced the audience to the some of the realities of homelessness, both the bleak and the bright all of which were unexpected. As we follow a woman new to the system the themes of compassion, and gratitude surface time and again. We get a glimpse of how confusing the homeless shelters are, how the system is a maze of twists and turns, with so many rules. We also see how and why the rules keep everyone in the care of the system safe. The relationship with the rules is summarized in the line “The rules are our enemy, the rules are our friend.”
The most powerful part of Shelter from the Storm Is that it pulls draws out your soul and not only touches but merges you with the souls of the performers. Regardless of your ethnicity, gender or background you can see yourself as these women. You feel like you take their journey as they share it. Anyone who lives in the city encounters homeless people on a daily basis. Most of us have developed an emotional armor that allows us to go about our daily lives without being overly effected. Maybe some of donate to charity, or occasionally give some spare change. Shelter from the Storm quietly and gently shatters that emotional armor transforming the audience to being of pure empathy. Becoming homeless is something I have always been afraid of, in this state of empathy and not armor the answer to facing my fear came. The Piece Yvonne’s Boots brings us on a woman’s journey from how easily she lost everything to when she gets her new home. The story carried me right down the long dark tunnel of my fear and out the other side. Which is a gift I never expected.
The ensemble were not professionals, and their art was raw sincere, powerful, charming, and so very human. Its some of the best theater I have ever seen. If you have a chance to see Shelter from the Storm or another Girl Talk Theatre event you should definitely do so.