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The 13 Theatre Troupe: Drama Therapy, Social Justice

The 13 Theatre Troupe: Drama Therapy, Social Justice

Members of the 13 Theatre Troupe Performing at Housing Works Bookstore

Housing Works is adding a little drama to its unique blend of services and social justice!

Housing Works clients from our 13th Street West Village Health Center have joined forces with Theater of the Oppressed, NYC, to create The 13 Theatre Troupe.

The troupe premiered The Worm in the Big Apple on February 6th, 2012 at the Housing Works Bookstore Cafe. The play explores the challenges HIV-positive New Yorkers face when homeless and navigating the red tape of NYC’s social services.

“This was more therapeutic than most people would think,” said Juanita Chestnut, who played both a homophobic sister and an uncaring HASA caseworker. “I was able to get over a lot of stuff I’ve been through trying to get services by this theater performance.

The 13 Theatre Troupe began by investigating discrimination towards homeless and HIV+ New Yorkers in the fall 2011. The result is a participatory performance, in which every scene is also an open question to the audience. The show marks the beginning of their NYC tour, including performances at various Housing Works sites and for related community organizations.

“This show has given our clients an outlet to be advocates by using their creativity,” said Housing Works Recreation Coordinator Candace Rivela.

At each performance, audience members are invited to actively participate in a discussion following the play to explore alternatives to the problems and challenges portrayed in the play. The hope is that people who see the production who are going through similar situations will be able to problem solve for themselves by participating in the play and discussions.

“I moved to New York from Alabama seven years ago, and it was very hard trying to get help,” said troupe member Levorne Moore. “I feel this show will help young people and people who come to New York from other states to navigate the system.”

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