I am Home is a piece of verbatim (meaning the script is based on the spoken words of real people) exploring the homelessness crisis. The encounters were captured over a year, including through the Covid-19 lockdowns. The piece, created by The RSYP Company, is eye-opening and handled sensitively. It was beautifully done and brought a few tears to my eyes.
The piece had many discussions around different aspects of homelessness, including but not limited to: what consists of a home; mental health and loneliness; the effects of Covid-19 on the homeless; and the issues around whether the public believe a homeless person is genuine or a scammer. Some of the conversations around these subjects spoke to aspects of homelessness that I had not even considered. They showed that anyone could be homeless, and the reasons for this can be multitudinous.
The set of the piece was a really interesting part of the show. When initially walking into the theatre (The Lantern @ The ACT for this performance), you can see a bunch of white cardboard boxes pilled up in front of a projector screen. Throughout the performance, the actors move these boxes around to create different ‘homes’ and spaces. This felt so dynamic. A particular favourite ‘home’ was their creation of a tube. They used the projector screen to show photos and videos of the homeless experience which really helped to highlight that this is something that is taking place right outside the theatre. Brighton, where I live and where this was performed, has a large homeless community – you can see the effects on homelessness on nearly every street. So, this piece of theatre being performed in Brighton is important.
Whilst I loved the piece overall, I did occasionally find myself a bit confused by the constantly switching narratives. The RSYP Company intertwined a number of different stories within the piece. I loved the concept of this but I did find myself struggling to keep up. I also had trouble hearing some of the performers occasionally as I found the background music at times was too loud. This is in no way a critique of the performers’ storytelling abilities. They were captivating and compelling.
Walking into the theatre, I was really worried that this piece would have been stereotypical and broad. However, I AM HOME presented different perspectives on a very nuanced issue. In the programme they state that they wanted to “stay true to each person’s words and see the world as they did at a specific moment in time”. I am so glad they did this and used the genuine experiences of those who have lived street experiences or have been homeless in some way.
The main thing I took away from this piece is that one of the most difficult aspects of being homeless is loneliness and inhumane treatment. The piece’s main message is “being Human is a given, being humane is a choice”. This is something that will stay with me for a while and I will be reminded of whenever I see someone who is experiencing homelessness.