Rob Heath, the playwright behind the musical docudrama Dragonfly, is well known as one of the best singer-songwriters and storytellers in the city.

What is less well known about Heath, however, is that when he was 15 he ran away from home and spent many a chilly night sleeping under the High Level Bridge.

“I didn’t run away because I was in a bad home, or anything; I was just a bit of a wild child and was looking for adventure,” Heath explains.

Nevertheless, these experiences had a profound effect on Heath and inspired him to write Dragonfly, a story of three teens living on the street and doing whatever they can to stay alive.

“When I ran away, I met a lot of these kids and ran around with a lot of kids living on the street. And — with a lot of them — I had a lot of admiration for them and for their resourcefulness. So I decided I was going to write a play about it.”

Heath says that the main goal of the play — presented in association with the Youth Emergency Shelter — is to raise awareness and dispel some stereotypes.

“I live downtown and walk by guys sleeping beside dumpsters all the time, and I think we tend to have a cardboard cut-out of who they are.”

As Heath goes on to say, our assumptions aren’t always correct. Many youth living on the streets aren’t there because they want to or because they’ve made poor choices, but because others around them have.

“A lot of these youth are running away from abusive homes,” notes Heath.

He adds, “Some of the kids [from the Youth emergency Shelter] have come up and watched the show and they’ve told me that it’s not too romantic a portrayal of their experiences. So far, the feedback has been really positive.”

As it should be: A young cast featuring Cody Ray, Matt Van Boeyen, and Ellie Heath (Rob Heath’s daughter) are all well above average in their singing and acting abilities.

Veteran actor and director Glenn Nelson also appears in the show — and in the second last scene of the play — an exchange between Nelson’s character and Van Boeyen’s left many in the audience in tears.