Sourced from reporter Amy Julia Harris’ Subsidized Squalor investigation and the poets’ own observations last year interviewing sources and walking through dilapidated buildings, the live performance at Tides Theatre analyzed the concept of “home” through the eyes of Richmond residents living – and surviving – amid atrocious conditions in the Hacienda and Nevin housing projects.
Under the direction of StoryWorks Artistic Director Jennifer Welch and José Vadi, “This is Home: The Play” allowed us to go even deeper into the experiences of elderly and disabled public housing residents through fictional characters inspired by real-life events. Evans played an ambivalent security guard, and Clark brought the Hacienda complex itself to life through an opening monologue from the perspective of the building. We even incorporated a fourth poet and actor, Tassiana Willis, who joined Clark, Evans and Hartfield-Peoples on stage as a character inspired by 81-year-old Hacienda resident Helen “Mama” Hall, who was featured in CIR’s reporting.
New scenes were written as new aspects of the investigation unfolded. CIR’s Harris often was present for rehearsals, providing live feedback to our ideas. “This Is Home” became a creative project that functioned on a journalist’s deadline.
Dozens of residents still live in the Hacienda complex, which was deemed uninhabitable by the city of Richmond in the wake of CIR’s investigation.