Transitions: Spotlight to shine on stories of Cambridge homeless men

Dancers James Butler, Kaylee Millis, top left, and Katie Lohman dance and Jonathan Smalls, right, recites poetry in the show Transitions, which plays Friday and Saturday PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO
Dancers James Butler, Kaylee Millis, top left, and Katie Lohman dance and Jonathan Smalls, right, recites poetry in the show Transitions, which runs Friday and Saturday PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO

A group of Cambridge men are sharing their stories of love, loss, addiction, and recovery this weekend in a theater production that aims to open the community’s eyes to plight of the homeless community.

“Transitions,” a show consisting of essays, poetry, rap, songs and dance, is based on the writings of five men in a residential sobriety treatment program at the Salvation Army.

“People assume when they hear the word ‘homeless’ that addiction is part of it,” said Misch Whitaker, the show’s creator/director.

The writings were compiled from a year’s worth of writing workshops that aimed at providing a voice for the men, as well as an outlet for healing. Whitaker said her decision to put on the stage production was inspired by her years working as a nurse for Boston Healthcare for the Homeless.

“They have survived things that would kill anyone else. I feel these stories need to be shared,” she said.

Actor Jon Smalls plays the part of Anthony, a recovering heroin addict.

“This is a first for me, to explore this kind of subject matter,” he said.

Though some are stories of struggle, the show’s music director, Marissa Wahkuna Campbell, said there are many positive messages.

“No matter how deep you are in your own hole, there is always help available… It is inspirational. There are raw parts, but there are also funny moments, and stories of love.”

Actor Dana Jay Bein, for instance, plays the part of “Happy Man,” which is based on an author’s love of his wife, and coffee.

“This has been a joy to be a part of,” said Bein. “I think (the performance) can connect a lot of different people.”

Whitaker said she hopes the production helps the authors have a better understanding of where they came from, so they have a better grasp of where they’re going next.

She also hopes to make the community think twice about the people they pass on the street. “I hope they don’t walk by these (homeless) strangers and make up a story about them in their head. Every story is surprisingly familiar. I hope everyone who comes in contact with this project is inspired into a dialogue about what makes a community,” Whitaker said.

“Transitions” will run Friday and Saturday at Green Street Studios in Central Square. Tickets and details are available at www.storieswithoutroofs.org.

Each performance will feature a talk-back with the authors.

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS


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