A compelling glimpse at seemingly invisible people

Karlena Riggs, right, and Pete Brennan are the creators of “Seeking Shelter”. Photo by Joshua Agree.

by Rob Howard
Associate Editor

“Seeking Shelter is an original cabaret-style show about a seemingly invisible people: the homeless,” says Pete Brennan, co-creator of the show with Karlena Riggs. “Through storytelling, song and dance, performers will shed light on the plight of our homeless population and give voice to our marginalized communities.”

The show, part of Tulsa Performing Arts Center’s SummerStage Tulsa programming, will be presented in the Liddy Doenges Theatre June 15 at 7:30 p.m.

Brennan told The Gayly that Seeking Shelter “will explore the common themes affecting our veterans, people of color, LGBT youth and survivors of domestic abuse that lead to and perpetuate homelessness.”

“Karlena and I want to give a voice to a silent demographic” says Brennan. “We hope that by approaching these issues in a performance-based way, we can raise awareness and help to alleviate the stigma attached to being homeless.

“We believe that increasing public awareness of the systemic problems that continually contribute to the plights of marginalized communities is the first step toward solving these overarching issues.”

The show had its inspiration when Brennan and Riggs were pursuing their M.F.A. at Boston Conservatory. “We planned on presenting this show as our thesis production, so for the past year we have been collecting data, watching hours of interviews and documentary footage and studying why certain groups of people find themselves homeless at a much higher rate,” he said.

The SummerStage production is the first iteration of the show. Brennan and Riggs hope to continue to develop the work and one day present it as a full-length original musical.

“We want people to feel moved and empowered to affect change. The purpose of this show is to bridge a perceptional gap about homeless people, and by doing so, we hope that our audience will feel empathy for their fellow community members.

“Similarly, if we can provide a sense of clarity and connection to an audience member who might be struggling with some of the issues prevalent among the homeless population, we'll have done our job,” Brennan concluded.

Tickets for Seeking Shelter are $15, $12 for seniors and students and are available online at www.tulsapac.com, by phone at (918) 596-7111 or in person at the Tulsa PAC box office, 101 E. Third Street in downtown Tulsa.

Copyright 2017 The Gayly - 6/6/2017 @ 7:50 a.m. CDT