Javon Johnson’s lastest work throws a gaunlet down for an audience of theatregoers to pick up: can they see the shared humanity between themselves and the homeless?
Homelessness is a problem most people likely see daily. Even if we see homeless persons every day – on our way to work, on our way home, when we take our pets or our children to the park – do we pay attention to them? Or do we go out of our way to ignore them? Do we deny them the same level of respect that we give to so many others?
To be seen as real, live, three-dimensional humans, that is what the characters in HOBO KING are seeking. Inspired by true events, the play opens with the shooting of an unarmed African-American man by the police. The victim here is a homeless young dancer named Lazy Boy, and his death spurs his fellow homeless people into action. Facing an impending ban on homelessness from city hall, they decide they need to act. At the prodding of one their members, a Katrina refugee named Slim, this community of homeless decide they need to form their own government. So they elect themselves a king: Preacher Man, a wheelchair-bound sage who, before he can lead, must confront his own feelings of guilt and hopelessness.
HOBO KING is produced by Congo Square Theatre and runs through March 5 at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport in Chicago. For more information call (773) 935-6875 or go to the website www.congosquaretheatre.org