What makes a home?

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By Martin Jones

 

Have you ever wondered, in that moment when you put your key in the front-door and walk over the threshold, what makes a place a ‘home’?

Each of us has vastly different motivations of what makes a place feel like ‘home’, as distinct to just a place where we eat, sleep and stay out of the heat or cold. It might be a place of fond personal memories, or somewhere you’ve settled into and started a family (or not) with that special person or persons in your life.

‘Home’ could be as simple as being surrounded by family photos and treasured items, possessions that evoke family times and reminiscences.  A place that arouses a feeling of calmness and sanctuary whenever you are ensconced inside – a smell, a visual reference to help slip into those proverbial “pair of slippers”.

Those from ethnic and culturally driven backgrounds would argue ‘home’ is a place where the family and extended family gathers as a unit – to share traditional food and exchange traditional cultural experiences.

Either way, we are all different – and we all approach what we see as ‘home’ like most human beings – somewhat uniquely.

Whilst the majority of us have a roof over our head, it’s a sobering thought to know that according to Homelessness Australia statistics there are over 105,000 people nationally in Australia who simply don’t have one. Homelessness walks hand in hand with a host of other issues, including domestic violence, relationship breakdowns, family disputes, alcohol and drug addiction, social isolation and mental illness.

It is sobering to discover that only 6% of people experiencing homelessness are on the street. The rest are ‘hidden’ – and could be someone you know.

So how does one become homeless? What triggers such a monumental shift in a person’s domestic situation that causes someone to become homeless?

And could it happen to me?

Candlelight Productions is a non-profit arts production company that has been exploring these issues over the last 18 months. This small volunteer-driven company uses different forms of art to build community and shape culture.

Candlelight’s upcoming theatrical production, Outside the Box, beckons us to unpack these issues by interweaving theatre, music and puppetry to explore not only issues of home, but homelessness – a growing and complex social challenge.

Outside the Box delves into some of the key issues regarding homelessness, and compares them to our own views of “home” and its implications on our social identity.

Director MarDee Kaylock says: “Each performance puts out the welcome mat and invites her audience to experience transforming moments, and the stories of the ‘everyman’. These stories ask us to come a little closer and consider our relationships: who is inside, what is outside and where are we?

The group-devised play was inspired by real life people and events at a rooming house in Hawthorn, managed by Servants Community Housing. The production process included having the actors spend time dining and talking to residents on one of Servant’s rooming houses.

Servants is a non-profit housing provider that prides itself on providing not only a roof over people’s heads, but also dignity, respect and hope. They achieve this through a holistic approach which allows vulnerable individuals —many of whom suffer from long-term mental illnesses — to live in relative comfort with a strong sense of community and belonging.

Servants has been operating affordable accommodation and safe housing for those on low incomes for over a quarter of a century. This includes advocating for real social change in the area of homelessness and housing government policy.

Candlelight Productions’ season of Outside the Box is fortuitously timed to provide greater awareness to Homeless Persons Week 2013 (5-11 August 2013).

Homeless Persons’ Week is an awareness-raising week organized by Homelessness Australia to raise the profile of this complex social issue and to help bring about public policy and social change.

Candlelight Productions hopes that the stories they tell in Outside the Box will help all people – whether they own a house or not – to find a place they can call their home.

Tickets are on sale now. As with all Candlelight’s shows, disadvantaged people can apply for subsidised tickets through their Community Access Program by emailing info@candlelightproductions.com.au. See their website for more details about the show.

 

Where:   Chapel Off Chapel 12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran

When: 15 – 31 August 2013 (Thu-Sat @ 8pm & 5pm Sun)

Cost: Adult $30 / Conc. $25 / Groups (6+) $24 /Preview 15 Aug $22 (+ Booking Fee)

www.candlelightproductions.com.au or call the venue on 03 8290 7000.

 Facebook: candlelightproductions/au

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