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BWW Review: FROM THESE STREETS I RISE, Live-streamed from CoHo Theatre


FROM THESE STREETS I RISE is a documentary theatre piece based on interviews with Street Roots vendors.

BWW Review: FROM THESE STREETS I RISE, Live-streamed from CoHo Theatre

I've spent a lot of time these past 6 months reflecting on my many privileges. I'm in good health. I have a job. I can work from home. I have health insurance. I'm white. This past week, as wildfires have ravaged our beautiful corner of the world, the privilege that's been most evident is simply having a home.

As of the most recent official count, which was last year, there were 4,015 people experiencing homelessness in Multnomah County on any given night. More than 2,000 of them were sleeping outside. COVID-19 and the related economic upheaval have undoubtedly caused those numbers to rise. And now, the air outside is unbreathable.

So, it's strangely apropos that this is the weekend that FROM THESE STREETS I RISE, Mikki Jordan's documentary theatre piece about homelessness in Portland, is live-streaming from CoHo Theatre. In any climate, this show would be a powerful call to action. In the current one, it creates a moral imperative.

FROM THESE STREETS I RISE is a collection of short monologues, all performed by Jordan, based on interviews with Street Roots vendors. By telling their stories in this way, Jordan helps us understand homelessness not as a nameless, faceless statistic, but as a problem impacting real human people. The characters encompass a wide spectrum of experiences, from a successful businessperson who lost everything because of a health problem to a veteran who hadn't found meaningful work after leaving the military, to someone who'd been thrown out of their home for being transgender. Their stories highlight the myriad systemic failures that have led us to this point, as well as the steps we need to take as a society to fix them. There's a lot that's broken out there right now, and this play reminds us that the only way forward is together.

On top of the timely social justice aspect, FROM THESE STREETS I RISE is just good theatre. Jordan's performance was excellent and I loved the original music (also performed live) by Samie Jo Pfiefer. I've found online theatre hit and miss at best, but this show is a perfect fit for the medium. Thanks to Chris Harder's direction and the skillful work of the streaming team, I almost felt like I was actually sitting at CoHo! If you've been hesitant about online theatre, this show might just change your mind.

You only have two more opportunities to see FROM THESE STREETS I RISE as a live-stream: tonight at 7:30 and tomorrow at 2:00. I highly recommend you take advantage of at least one of them. As an added bonus, 75% of all ticket sales will be donated to Street Roots. More details here.

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