Applied Theatre: Sanctuary for Homeless LGBTQQI Youth

By: Jamie Cacciola-Price

Sanctuary, an ethnodrama in one act is based on the stories and writings of LGBTQQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Transgender, Queer, Questioning and Intersex) homeless youth that live at a local shelter. For the past two years I have conducted interviews with the youth, as well as facilitated writing workshops where they wrote journals, poetry, and letters. The piece explores topics ranging from lack of employment, prostitution, discrimination, sexual abuse, HIV, love, skinny jeans, Little Debbie’s and Beyoncé. I was drawn to tell these stories because of the growing epidemic of homeless queer youth in New York City, particularly among transgender and intersex youth of color. During the script development stage I was influenced by the vividness and graphic nature of the youth’s writings and chose to showcase their stories through a combination of flashback/frozen action sequences scattered within a linear story structure that follows the youth over a period of three days in June of 2012. Further aiding my process was Stephen DiMenna’s playwriting class, where I was able to try different approaches to the storytelling to see what was affective. Sanctuary is important because it raises awareness and provides a voice to a population that so desperately needs to be heard. The rich talk back and discussion following the premiere reading on April 27 at NYU illustrated to me that this play has the potential to change hearts and minds, and should a production ever come to fruition it will be because of the mentorship and guidance of the many great professors, researchers and artists that I’ve had the privilege to work within the Program in Educational Theatre.