Homeless to tell stories in 'Walk in My Shoes' - Aug. 16

Homeless to tell stories in 'Walk in My Shoes' - Aug. 16

August 15th, 2013 by Clint Cooper in Chattnow Art

An original production at ReCreate Café will allow homeless and non-homeless people to see what it's like to "Walk in My Shoes."

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.


• What: "Walk in My Shoes: An Evening of Stories From Chattanooga's Homeless and Non-Homeless Communities"

• When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16; doors open at 7 p.m.

• Where: The Salvation Army's ReCreate Café, 800 McCallie Ave.

• Admission: Free but donations accepted

• Phone: 423-305-6208

• Website: facebook.com/recreatecafearts

Ever wondered what it's like to walk in someone else's shoes?

Tenika Dye, artistic director for The Salvation Army's ReCreate Café, did. So she has turned the stories she has collected from people who are currently homeless, have been homeless or have never been homeless into the public performance "Walk in My Shoes: An Evening of Stories From Chattanooga's Homeless and Non-Homeless Communities" on Friday, Aug. 16, at The Salvation Army 614 Corps.

"Every story has been fascinating," she says, "and, ironically, they all have ended in a hopeful place. [The teller has] become a different person, a better person, a stronger person."

Dye says she wondered whether the stories would make the homeless and non-homeless storytellers more alike or different.

"We're really seeing that [people are more alike]," she says. "As we craft and pull them into a story, themes and connections have emerged. I wouldn't have seen that coming. That's kind of awesome."

The eight stories, five to 10 minutes long, will be told by four men and four women, two who are homeless and two who are not.

The stories will not be acted out and will not be memorized as a script is, Dye says, but told in story monologue.

She asked the storytellers to consider a story with a beginning, middle and end, that included a crisis and that the teller didn't mind being told in front of an audience. To jump-start the process, she asked each person, "What story from your life is asking to be told?"

Each performer will relate someone else's story rather than his or her own. In other words, someone who has faced homelessness tells the story of someone who has never been there and vice versa.

"We don't want the audience to know [who's homeless and who's not]," she says. "We want people to listen and not worry whether it's a homeless story or not."

Dye says all of the stories coincidentally make mention of love - lack of love, pursuit of love, love at first sight - and many talk about family and family relationships.

"Our stories are so tied to where we come from," she says. Some of the stories are humorous, some "live in a dark place, where we're embarrassed and ashamed. We're asking them to bring them out of darkness and into the light. That takes courage."

Due to the content of the material, "Walk in My Shoes" is recommended for ages 13 and older, with teens being accompanied by an adult.

Contact staff writer Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6497. Subscribe to his posts at Facebook.com/ClintCooperCTFP.