Legislators join LGBT homeless youth in theater performance

The teens who will be performing, from left to right, back row: Moon, Kahlil; middle row: Rachel, Akaila, Aumma, Eliezer, Gregory, Jada; front row: India, Larissa, James, Troy, Alexis. Credit: Theatre of the Oppressed.
The teens who will be performing, from left to right, back row: Moon, Kahlil; middle row: Rachel, Akaila, Aumma, Eliezer, Gregory, Jada; front row: India, Larissa, James, Troy, Alexis. Credit: Theatre of the Oppressed.

After a series of anti-gay attacks in Manhattan, city and state legislators are joining homeless gay youth in an interactive theater performance based on the real-life experiences of the teens involved.

The “legislative performance” is part of a theater festival presented by Theatre of the Oppressed NYC that will take place this Saturday and Sunday, May 18 and 19, at the Church of St. Luke in the Field in Greenwich Village. The legislators’ performance will be on Saturday at 2 p.m.

City Councilmembers Daniel Dromm, Jimmy Van Bramer and Rosie Mendez, City Council Candidate Corey Johnson and New York State Senator Brad Hoylman will join three homeless LGBTQ teen acting ensembles from three local shelters geared at LGBTQ youth: The Ali Forney Center, The Door, and the Hetrick-Martin Institute.

The teens will also be joined on stage by a U.S. Housing and Urban Development policy analyst, Homeless Coordinator Samuel Miller and Department of Justice Regional Director Reinaldo Rivera. 

The plays will deal with the issues that the homeless LGBTQ teens face. Katy Rubin, the 27-year-old founder of both the festival and Theatre of the Opressed NYC, said that one of the main topics is the shortage of shelter beds that are safe for LGBTQ youth and being victims of hate crimes in non-LGBTQ shelters for youth.

There are only 80 bed available in LGBTQ-friendly shelters in New York City, for an estimated 1,800 homeless gay teens.

Some of the teens rehearsing. Clockwise from top: Sophie Nimmannit, TONYC Joker, Member of Door Troupe, Kendall (floor). Credit: Theatre of the Oppressed.
Some of the teens rehearsing. Clockwise from top: Sophie Nimmannit, TONYC Joker, Member of Door Troupe, Kendall (floor). Credit: Theatre of the Oppressed.

The performances in the festival are interactive: the teens act out a scene and then invite the audience onstage to improv, act out, and brainstorm solutions to the issues portrayed in the scene. At the performance involving legislators, the audience’s ideas will be shaped into policy proposals by the legislators, and the audience will vote on the proposals.

In a similar festival in Brazil, this kind of Legislative Theatre has led to policy changes in education, prison rights, and civil rights, Rubin said.

The performance, as well as all other performances and panel discussions in the festival, are free of charge and open to the public.

“We really want everybody’s voice to be part of the dialogue,” Rubin said.

 

Legislative Theatre Performance

Saturday, May 18 at 2 p.m.

The Church of St. Luke in the Fields

487 Hudson Street

 

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat


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