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Neighborhoodlum puts a human face on the homeless. Little consideration is ever given to who they are or how they came to suffer their plight. Neighborhoodlum hopes to soften people’s hearts and open their minds to the real lives of homeless teens by creating a truly unexpected and unforgettable experience that may encourage people to make a difference in helping to solve the homeless problem in their own communities. Neighborhoodlum is designed to be performed by a small cast in medium-sized coffee shops or other similar environments.

A homeless panhandler (teenaged actor) enters the venue. Once the majority of the room has become aware of the presence of this individual and set their (likely negative) first impressions of this person, the teen/actor then approaches an adult customer (another, older actor) busily working at a table. Just as the adult is ready to give the same brush-off that the real patrons have likely done, the two recognize each other from an earlier time, when the teen/actor was not on the streets and the adult/actor was an important figure in the life of the former.  The dialog begins: What happened to you?

Neighborhoodlum is part of the 2005 King County Performance Network

Neighborhoodlum premiered in Redmond, Washington, at
Jerzy's Coffee
on October 7, 2005,
with another performance following up at
Victor's Celtic Coffee House
on October 8

Ms DeWitt: Susan Alotrico
Crystal: Melissa Walker

These were both publicized performances, so most of the audience was prepared for the interaction between the actors, although they didn't know when it would begin.  One group of audience members whispered among themselves that the only remaining vacant table must be where the action was going to take place, so they placed themselves accordingly for a view, only to find out that the woman who had already been sitting at another table -- behind them -- for 10 minutes before they arrived was part of the play.

A handful of unprepared customers came in part-way through each performance, though by then ushers had passed out programs, so it was a little more evident that something out-of-the-ordinary was taking place.

Another small group was at the back of one of the venues, talking loudly amongst themselves, though this proved to be not much of an obstacle, as the sound of the espresso machine was, more often than not, the loudest noise to be overcome.

Both performances were well-received, meeting with loud applause from the patrons.  Susan and Melissa turned out awesome performances, and although Melissa's hair didn't appear nearly quite so bright blue sans flash in the dim lighting of the cafe, her garb and physical attitude definitely struck the unaware segment of the audience in the expected way. 

It remains to be seen how the upcoming "guerilla" performances will be received, as we will effectively be interlopers into the patrons' visit to a coffee shop, rather than the focus of that visit.  Although the staff of the shops will be aware of what's transpiring, only after the ushers have handed out programs, roughly five minutes into the play, will the customers realize they are watching live theater.


Produced with the support and collaboration of 4Culture and the Redmond Arts Commission

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