A Mile in My Shoes – A Journey Worth Traveling…

By Ernest Kearney  —  Writer/Performer Kathryn Taylor Smith has accomplished something remarkable with her one woman show A Mile In My Shoes.  She has managed to present a show about one of the most pressing issues of our time, homelessness; and she has done so with intelligence, compassion, humor, pathos and insight but most of all with humanity.

Relying on research and aided by John Williams’ visual effects, Smith guides us through the underworld of L.A.’s skid row.  The Virgil of her tale is Ester, “Ester like Easter,“ we’re told, “without an ‘A’.

Ester is herself homeless and a self-proclaimed “shoe whisperer.”   Wherever she journeys she has her cart of shoes in tow which she passes out to those in need of new soles.

She tells us —

“If these shoes could talk,

they would slip away on a sunny day

From the pills and fears.

If these shoes could talk,

they’d tell you homelessness

is not going away.”

 

Smith exposes us to all the harsh and conflicting stratums of homelessness: the tale of a transgender teen she knew murdered on the streets, a young mother fleeing an abusive relationship, a woman who operates a boutique specially for homeless women where they can find donated clothing of the very best kind and receive free makeovers to lift their spirits and help them in seeking employment, to the personalities who flock to a city council meeting supporting and opposing the placement of a shelter in their neighborhood.

Director Zadia Ife and Projection Designer Matt Ritchey have orchestrated Smith’s characters and tales into a production that is as entertaining as it is moving, and have done the show a service by assuring the scene-lets and characters are precisely delineated.  Smith’s writing has a musical quality, and Ester’s gallivanting on the streets of downtown Los Angeles lapses into dance-like sequences.  Choreographed by James “Annex” Cleaver, these segues are graceful in form but always fitted to Smith’s character movement, preventing these occasions from diminishing into the “hoofing homeless.”

The last of Smith’s 16 characters is a young high school valedictorian who, when speaking before her schoolmates and their families, reveals that while attending the same classes, she hid from them the fact that she, herself, was homeless.  It is Smith’s strongest and most gripping writing and brings her stories full circle.

From “Ester like Easter without an ‘A’,” we are brought before a true resurrection, of a young woman who, with the support of a select few, has lifted herself up from despair to hope.  In looking at her standing before us, on her way to Harvard law school, she asks us to, whenever we look into the face of the homeless, remember that we are seeing a soul who, like ourselves, are trying their best to be human under very inhumane conditions.

Homelessness has no place in our city, our state or our country.

That is the truth.

We now must act upon that truth.

In A Mile In My Shoes Smith shows us the first step.

That when we look upon the homeless not to see a problem, but a human being.

♦     ♦     ♦

Before embarking on a multi-city national tour

A Mile In My Shoes

is playing in los Angeles

Sundays at 3pm

thru December 9

at the

Hudson Backstage Theatre
6539 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90038

For Tickets and Additional Information

http://www.kathryntaylorsmith.com/

http://plays411.com/mileinmyshoes

♦     ♦     ♦

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An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. After a wild and misspent youth, which lasted well into middle age, Kearney has settled down and is focusing on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. Ernest’s stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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