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The Lookout | April 19, 2021

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Play describes local homeless stories

Play describes local homeless stories
  • On November 21, 2019

By Ali Williams
A&E Editor

Anyone can be homeless: a friend, a neighbor or even a family member.

The cast of “I Have a Name” showed this when it performed at Dart Auditorium Nov. 16 and 17.

The show incorporated music, spoken poetry and interpretive dance, all done by LCC professors, alumni and students.

The cast included Quinn Kelly, Kayla Henry, Jeffry Wilson, Ny’Kieria Blocker and Bob Robinson. They performed stories of five people from the Lansing area involving experiences with homelessness throughout their lives.

Emmie Paullin played Jillian, a student who was a part of Judy Allen’s research project that “I Have a Name” is based upon.

The five people portrayed by the cast – JP Cummings, Shylah Outlaw, Dominique O’Neal, Dick Taylor and Reuben Kenyatta – were all interviewed at Volunteers of America, now known as City Rescue Mission.

Kenyatta was at Dart Auditorium Saturday, Nov. 16 to showcase his art and make a speech on stage once the cast was done performing.

Kenyatta served in the United States Marine Corps for multiple years. He suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for years, as he was never tested for it when he left the military, he said.

“I came to speak as well as tell my story,” Kenyatta said, “and also share some of the artwork that I do as therapy … to help me stay focused.”

The lives of the subjects of the play before, during and after their time at Volunteers of America were spoken about during the performances.

Blocker, who also performed in “Sunset Baby” in September, played Dominique O’Neal. O’Neal is a 26-year-old mother of two children, ages 8 and 6.

“Her (Dominique) story is that she went through an abusive relationship,” Blocker said. “Eventually enough was enough for her and she wanted to protect her children.”

Blocker explained that O’Neal became homeless when she decided to protect her children from their abusive father. Despite being in a negative situation, Blocker said, O’Neal always had a positive mindset throughout her life.

Kelly, an LCC theater program alumni who has been in 11 LCC productions, played the role of JP Cummings. Cummings is currently a student at LCC who plans to graduate in the year 2021, Kelly said at the end of the performance.

“He was a drug addict … when he was on the streets,” Kelly said. “He made it out and he kind of has a full-circle story. Now he is working as a phlebotomist, but back when he was homeless, he used to donate plasma to make money.”