Drama club’s play explores humane treatment of homeless

NORWICH – Members of the Norwich High School Drama Club explored misperceptions about homelessness in an original one act play recently performed in the school’s theater.

“The Buck Stops Here,” set in a busy Manhattan subway station, was written, produced and performed by eight juniors and seniors who are studying public speaking, drama and improvisation under the guidance of their teacher, Richard Bernstein.

The drama depicts flaws in society’s perception of what makes individuals homeless, what types of people are likely to end up that way, and who is helping or not helping them under the pretense of helping. The student actors played hobos, philanthropists, executives, a clean-needle doling volunteer, and an enthusiastic college sorority girl whose interactions while waiting for their trains were both very funny and painfully sad.

The hobos, played by Shannon Richards as the drug addict, Peg, and Charles, a guitarist played by Jeff Wilkinson, are huddled together inside the station discussing their latest meal or lack thereof. While Peg complains of a canker sore, she identifies the various chords, cadences and keys to the new tune Charles plays. The two appear intelligent, resolved in their state and oblivious to the passing of time, or as Peg says, “Time’s not my thing anyway.”

Lorraine and Stella, activists against poverty played by Julia Simcoe and Ashlee Zammiello, enter the station, see and approach the hobos and yell loud and clear at them as if they were deaf and daft.

“Helloo! Have you eaten today?” sings Lorraine. “Oh that’s right, you’re probably stuffed from the meal of macaroni and cheese with cornbread you had last night at the soup kitchen. You’re welcome, by the way.”

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