Imagine yourself in a state of 'Homelessness'.
After studying the topic ‘Homelessness’ I have discovered that being homeless does not just mean you do not have a house to live in, it could mean that someone does not have a secure and well established home. Maybe that someone doesn’t feel like they have a loving family and would be better off else. Before studying this topic I also did not realise some of the many reasons why people live on the streets. I always thought stereotypically that homeless people were either drug abusers or just didn’t earn money so therefore couldn’t afford a home. I discovered by studying this topic that it is probably much worse than what I first thought. People can become homeless for a number of reasons such as: - the break up of families, loss of jobs, alcoholism, drug use, physical or/and emotional abuse at home.
When passing a homeless person in the street when I occasionally go into London I never stop to think about the torment they go through every day and every night of the year, but after looking into it and stopping to actually find out and take an interest in their lives I discovered they go through a lot more than what is seen. This includes abuse of both the physical and emotional kind from passers-by especially in the evening from drunks. They get urinated on, beaten, spat on and have their few items that they do own taken away from them from people who think automatically that they have rights to do such things to people on the streets.
Despite the fact that this could happen to anybody, when it happens to a homeless person they are usually in no place to fight back and probably wouldn’t come out of it the winner due to how weak they must feel after nasty things like that happen time and time again. Not only would they almost be helpless to stop what was going on but who would they have to turn to? The loneliness these people must suffer from is probably the worst thing overall. Worse than being cold, and sat in the dark. If they were cold and sat in the dark with someone to talk to they probably wouldn’t even notice they were cold and in the dark. Imagining having nobody to talk to or turn to with problems is just unthinkable.
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During our Drama lessons we were told to go home and sit outside our houses on then concrete ground for up to half an hour. I attempted this for just 15 minutes before I gave up and went back inside. I had the choice to stay outside or go back inside into the warmth of my house. Homeless people don’t have that choice. Their home is on the streets. Whilst sitting on the concrete ground I began to realise how unpleasant it must be to be sat on bitter concrete for hours on end. The numbness they must feel would be incredibly hard to handle. After just 15 minutes outside, in a thin coat also I was already frozen throughout my body. My fingers were numb and my teeth started to chatter. A night on the streets for me would be my worst nightmare.
At the beginning of the assessment period the class read a newspaper article about a 14-year-old boy called Chris who ran away from home to become homeless. We were put into groups and had to act out scenes that showed the reason why Chris left and also the exact point where his mind was made up about leaving. In our group we had four characters; Chris, Mary (Chris’s older sister, 17), Chris’s Mum and Dave (Mum’s new boyfriend of two months). We showed how Dave treated Chris unfairly compared to his sister. Also Chris witnesses Dave speaking on the phone to what we can assume was another of his lovers. We made sure the audience could clearly see that Dave was a bit of a womaniser. We made a point of showing how over-friendly he was with Chris’s older sister, Mary. He often asked her for kisses and cuddles and claimed he “loves her”. The audience can see that Chris gets increasingly frustrated and upset by the way he is treating his family. Also because his sister and his mum were oblivious of what Dave was doing. The final straw for Chris was when Dave started to order him to do things for him as if he had rights over him. After Chris’s refusal to obey him Dave begins to threaten him with ending him to a boarding school far away from his home. I think this is the point when Chris realises he wants to leave and likes the idea of being away from home. I think he decides to not let Dave have the satisfaction of sending him to a boarding school so decides to leave without notice. Chris replied to him “ Anything to get away from you.” This moment is significant because it shows the exact point where Chris feels Dave has crossed the line and makes his definite decision to leave home.
When we acted these scenes about Chris, we didn’t really know about the reasons for why people leave but we did learn that youngsters that leave home to live on the streets won’t return easily due to their pride. Like Chris, he wouldn’t return until Dave was out of his family’s life and out of their home.
After reading the extract ‘And The Stars Were Made Of Gold’ our group decided to build a character based on the guard whom a group member played whilst acting a section from ‘And The Stars Were Made Of Gold’. In our development work we had to show where someone is forced to leave his or her home. The storyline we decided on was the death of a girl’s parents and her aunt who is her next of kin comes down to look after her. A few days after the funeral the girl’s aunt gives her two boxes to fill before forcing her to come back to live with her. We decided that the guard who was a strong minded but nasty person would help us when we came to do our development work. He gave us the idea of having someone as evil-minded as himself also forcing someone out of their home would be an affective way of showing a force from the girl’s home to her aunt’s house.
When we did this work it was a lot different to when we did the work about Chris and his family. I felt more emotionally involved when we did our development work as the force out of home seemed a lot worse than to choose to leave. It was a lot more demoralizing than the work we did on Chris because we showed how happy the girls family and the girl was before the tragedy. Also when we showed a flashback of the family together before the deaths the audience could see that they were a problem free family and the girl had everything to live for. After finding out about her parents death we can see the downfall of the girl as she becomes more and more upset and depressed. In the work about Chris we only saw what it was like for Chris at the time but not before Dave moved in. The scenes with Chris were a lot more humorous than those in our development work. Showing Dave as a womaniser added a comical side to the upset Chris felt. Whereas in our development work the whole thing was serious and the malice that came from the aunt was seen as soon as she entered a scene.
Other groups also showed very effective ways of someone being forced out of their homes. One short play in particular, about an ex-paedophile (Bert), living in his sister’s house after coming out of prison. His sister believes he is no longer interested in children and has learnt his lesson but her husband thinks otherwise and therefore wont let their young child be in the same room alone with him. To the audience we feel sorry for Bert because we can see that he does love his niece and has left his past behind. In the end we see how Bert gets blamed for something he hasn’t done, a misunderstanding, resulting in Bert being forced to leave. This made an impact on me because the group made us sympathise with Bert by showing his love for the whole family and his attempts to put things right. When Bert is forced to leave the audience have already become emotionally involved which saddens them.
After looking at all the different ways why people are homeless
I don’t think that everyone has the choice. I think some people probably do make it more difficult for themselves, like Chris. He had a home, and maybe he didn’t like Dave living there but is that good enough reason to leave to live rough? I think that some people don’t realise what they have got until they lose it. Like in our development work when the girl was forced to live at her aunts house away from her memories following the death of her parents we can show that the girl is emotionally hurt and distressed and that the move will ultimately be the end of her happy life at her house where she shares her wonderful memories of her parents. In this case she has no choice because she is to young to have any legal rights over where she is to live. In this case I think it was down to fate that she was forced to leave but in most cases I think it is up to that person whether they are to become homeless or not.
The best part of the ‘Homelessness’ topic was probably acting out our monologues. I really enjoyed seeing other people’s points of view on homeless people. Everyone had different ideas of what homeless people were really like. I thought this was a brilliant way of broadening our thoughts on Homeless people.
At first I thought homeless people were just people who couldn’t be bothered to get jobs and pay their way, but after studying this topic for a number of weeks I now can see that the reasons why people live like they do are not always so straight forward. I don’t believe that they are any less people than anyone else whereas I probably thought this before, which was unfair of me.
This assessment has been extremely mind provoking for me and I have learned lots about the homeless and how they live. Also about the things they go through and the hard times they have especially in the winter and at night. The reasons why they are on the streets I am now aware of and understand more about their lives. Obviously I do not know what it is like to live on the streets because I have never ever experienced anything like that that but it gave me an insight into what it might be like. I enjoyed acting out various scenes and monologues during this topic as much as reading the extracts and articles.