I had been a nomad for most of my adult life. Having dragged my wife and family around from town to town, we finally found a place to call home in Portland, Oregon. I wrote the following article and review of a stage performance that resonated with me, as I know it will with others, no matter where or how they live:
Presented by “The Honest Liars”
When put together in a stage performance, words and the ideas they represent can be a powerful vehicle for drawing attention to social issues that touch the lives of nearly everyone. Travel Home, A Story is just that kind of performance, delivered by the local Portland community theater troupe, “The Honest Liars.” One could get lost in this play and I almost did.
Directed by Rafael Miguel, the Travel Home, A Story performance was the result of a series of workshops that focused on the central theme of answering the question: What is Home?
Four actors played the parts of, a gypsy named Myrna, a runaway; a wannabe beat poet named Jack, and a delusional woman playing out life as a pirate philosopher. In juxtaposition to these characters living on the streets, the same four actors played the rolls of young adults struggling with different kinds of challenges. Together all of them were seeking their personal definition of what home is or should be. Each actor brought to the performance their own special qualities that made the characters feel authentic in every respect. I’m still in awe of the talent and flexibility each of these young actors demonstrated while shifting from one character roll to the next.
When I met with writer and actress Lily Warpinski at the Headwaters Theatre in North Portland, I asked what she hoped the audience would come away with after experiencing the show. She said, “I feel like I’ve done my job if the people who see our shows get sucked into the world of the play in a really visceral way and come out of the performance feeling not only that they’ve witnessed something interesting, but also feel physically and emotionally invested in whatever aspect of the piece appealed to them the most. Hopefully that the investment spurs them to get more grounded in their world and do something that impacts the community.”
The actors and small production team who comprise the touring theater company are all young passionate thinkers of the millennial generation. At twenty-five years old, Ms. Warpinski has been acting professionally for just under five years. Along with the other members of the cast, Mishelle Apalategui, Edwin Galvan, and Rob Lauta, equally youthful and equally talented, Warpinski and the production crew brought the central theme of this show to the forefront. It is with a keen sense of observation and desire to understand the community where they live and work that made this performance come alive with authenticity and grit.
The Honest Liar Collaboration also included local photographer John Koch. Ms. Warpinski said that John’s access to the local community of people living outside on the streets of Portland was instrumental in the development of the script and the character rolls.
Though I didn’t get the chance to meet Mr. Koch personally, I gained a sense of his contribution when I saw his photo exhibit on display in the Headwaters main lobby. One of Koch’s pieces, titled “David” grabbed my attention. The caption reads:
“David told me that some people – most frequently young adults – can be rude to people asking for donations on the street. He showed me a torn dollar bill that someone passed off to him as a joke, presenting it to him as if it were a wadded up, spendable bill. In terms of monetary value, it is worthless. Since he offered it to me and I accepted it, it has taken on a different kind of value to me.” – John Koch
Readers can learn more about The Honest Liars from their website:
Read more about Travel Home, A Story here:
Read more about photographer John Koch on the following sites where you can view more of his work: