The scene: a Starbucks lineup. Customers order double soy no-foam half-fat organic vanilla cappuccinos. Opposite, a line of homeless people stand waiting for whatever hot food is being dished out that day.
As the lines converge, the scene becomes the moment in Romeo and Juliet when the Capulets face off against the Montagues.
That idea of two contrasting groups existing in one city, and the misperceptions they have of each other, is the basis of A Downtown Eastside Romeo and Juliet, which opens today.
Terry Hunter, executive director of Vancouver Moving Theatre and producer of the 80-minute play, said Shakespeare’s story is about the tragic consequences of misunderstanding and judgment.
“In this case, it’s the Downtown Eastside and the larger world,” he said, adding this version is a comedy because the community needs to laugh.
“It’s really healing,” he said. “We’re actually putting (residents) on stage so they become the voice of their community and are telling their own story.”
Gina Bastone wrote, directed and stars in the play.
“I want people to have a deeper compassion for homeless people,” she said. “Every night I parked on Hastings and just watched (the community). That was part of the inspiration,” she said.
“I don’t (write plays) for any other reason except to show what I see.”
An Eastside love story
The scene: a Starbucks lineup. Customers order double soy no-foamhalf-fat organic vanilla cappuccinos. Opposite, a line of homelesspeople stand waiting for whatever hot food is being dished out that day.