Displaced is an innovative documentary theatre experience that gives us a new and powerful way to connect with the phenomenon of homelessness and the extraordinary value of those who see us, even though we have forgotten that they exist.
Exploring the myth of “Us” and “Them”, through live music and character impersonations by an actress described by Bruce Weber of the New York Times as “capable of astonishing transformations”, Displaced brings the world's “untouchables” to the stage to sing their stories, and be heard. Eliza Jane Schneider, an actress best known for voicing all of the female characters on Comedy Central's South Park, spent the first two decades of her career traveling the world as a street musician and dialect researcher. After her first play, FREEDOM OF SPEECH, won the “Best Solo Show” Award at the NYCInternational Fringe Festival in 2003, her role evolved into that of a grass-roots journalist, one who shared space with, broke bread with and, ultimately, tape-recorded the unique and powerful stories of abandoned, mistreated and, often, triumphant human beings living in the streets of our planet's wealthiest and poorest cities. Her resulting treatise, DISPLACED, is an amalgam of folk songs, fiddle music, personal narrative, and documentary theater.
Bruce A. Hostetler is the Artistic Director of CompassWorks, a Portland theatre company focused on illuminating untold stories through work based on interviews. He holds an MFA in Directing from the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama, and directs throughout North America.
This production contains mature subject matter and language.
Staged Reading at Portland's Fertile Ground Festival, 2017
“Most of us care about the homeless and fret about what we can do to help. Many of us volunteer in some way to address the problem. Few of us, however, can say we ‘know’ a homeless person. How would you even begin? Sit down and have a little chat? Record what the homeless have to say? Then what? Tell everyone you know? Who does that?
Eliza Jane Schneider is the only person I know who not only has done that, but who has combined her many theatrical talents to create a moving evening with the homeless in a brilliant presentation she calls ‘Displaced’. Eliza ‘becomes’ each person before our eyes, beginning with a brief recording of the homeless person and morphing into that person before our eyes. From the streets of America and several other countries, the DISPLACED come to life.
And yes, there is something you can do. Help Eliza help others by spreading the word about this remarkable piece of theatrical education.”
Audience Member DISPLACED Fertile Ground Festival 2017
Winner, NYCInternational Fringe Festival Award “Best Solo Show” (FREEDOM OF SPEECH) 2003
Winner, 1996 Drama Logue Critic's Award (Road Trip) 1996
“Virtuosic! Schneider's everymen and everywomen are opinionated, touching, and amazingly diverse. A vivid oral history of American life. The most stunning moment of the show, when Schneider averts the attack of a rapist with an operatic aria, is pure poetry, a soaring metaphoric counterpoint to the play's recurrent themes of human desperation and the redemptive powers of art” - Kathleen Foley, L.A. Times
“Amazing . . . wild, audacious, powerful, funny, poignant. The next Lily Tomlin!” - Venice Magazine
“Schneider is an astonishing physical mimic, and eerily adroit at capturing accents and speech patterns from various regions of the country.” - L.A. Reader
“Riveting, Brilliant, Dazzling...” - Wisconsin State Journal
“Wildly funny! Genuinely poignant. Watch out Anna Deavere Smith, Eliza Schneider just might do your act better than you do!” - Backstage West
A true story, Eliza Jane Schneider's twenty-five character solo play, Freedom of Speech, will take the audience on her journey through the kitchenettes and hearts of Arizona polygamists, Los Angeles dominatrixes and Montana Huterites, and into the real social emergencies facing America as a nation. Arkansas fiddles, Pittsburgh street rap and New Orleans midnight arias provide the soundtrack to Schneider's 317,000-mile spiritual quest, born of her hypothesis that dialects--residual phonemes--are the only archeological dig the kids of America have. What began as a World Arts and Cultures thesis project at UCLA and evolved through various cocoons as Road Trip and USA 911 emerges as a jarring sociopolitical manifesto, Freedom of Speech.
After having her wrist broken by a cop while protesting Daddy Bush's Gulf war, Schneider's distrust of the American system along with her fear of being permanently jettisoned into the numbing barrage of media hype on which her generation was weaned, incites her to cash in her assets, quit her "dream" job on television, shave her head, buy an ambulance, and set off across the country in search of...something she could not define. Esoteric voices? Or truth? Almost 10 years and over a thousand interviews later, she invites us on her journey. She revisits a collage of disenfranchised American voices from the streets, and develops a suspicion that America, disconnected, brainwashed and date-raped by an intangible government, is becoming pre-WWII Germany. She sets up a dialectic between the disconnected: urban and rural; rich and poor; New York and the South, all while taking the audience on her own wild ride from Arizona to Alabama to Alaska, stopping off in beauty parlors, swimming holes, bars, street corners, and churches, asking everyone she met, simply, "What's going on?" The answers challenge us to question the precarious premises upon which we rest our world-views. We are feminists seduced by hypnotic Utopia-hawkin polygamists; vegetarians donning a camouflage cap at deer camp in West Virginia; Jews driving to see the Blessed Virgin Mary appear on the side of a barn. We accompany a junkie to cop a fix. A Mexican-American marine tells about covert missions he fought in Beirut and Grenada. A nursing mother, in the process of rewriting the Declaration of Independence, contends "Tom Jefferson said, you must have a revolution every twenty years to keep the government straight, well, we haven't had a revolution in so long, it's ridiculous."
Still seeking a Universal Truth, we return with Schneider to the Chippewa reservation were she was raised, only to find a new Bingo Palace in the place of her old day-care. There, we meet a jewelry salesman who incites us to believe, "Now that the White Buffalo is here, Art will be the thing that brings the world together." Drawing on the most captivating chapters of her research, Schneider incorporates a scene from her earlier solo piece, Road Trip, described by the Los Angeles Times as "pure poetry, a soaring metaphoric counterpoint to the play's recurrent theme about human desperation and the redemptive powers of art."
The scene: Schneider averts a rapist's attack with an operatic aria, metaphorically reminding us of the power of the human voice to defend liberty. Blending the immediacy of a documentary with the intimacy of personal narrative, Freedom of Speech captures a muffled underlying voice of America that we won't hear anywhere else.
"You got TV, you got cable, you're alright."
"We are now living in the end times."
"I have 30 sons."
"It's an intimate thing to stick a needle in your arm."
"We can never get our innocence back."
|SELENA, GA||PAULA, WI||MAYOR DAN, AZ||AARON, WA||HEIDI, LA|
“ASTONISHING TRANSFORMATIONS!” - Bruce Weber, The New York Times