From the Civic Ensemble's Facebook page

Ithaca, N.Y. — The Civic Ensemble is taking on Ithaca’s affordable housing crisis through its next play, Home, which will be performed at the Kitchen Theatre Company on Feb. 23.

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The play will be performed as a “living newspaper,” a style of theater from the 1930s that takes current events and issues from the news and dramatizes them onstage. This form of play stays away from narrative and instead seeks to educate the audience by presenting multiple viewpoints.

Watch a video produced by Ithaca Voice about Civic Ensemble’s “Home:”

The plot follows Esperanza, a scholar from South America visiting Cornell University, as she searches the city for a place that she and her daughter can call home. Co-founder Godfrey Simmons said the play shows there is no one kind of person who lives in affordable housing.

The Civic Ensemble was founded in 2012 by Sarah Chalmers, Jennifer Herzog and Simmons with the intention of allowing the community to engage with theater instead of just seeing it. Last year, the group produced a play on police-community relations in Ithaca using stories from civilians and police officers.

From the Civic Ensemble’s Facebook page
From the Civic Ensemble show, “Safety,” posted on its Facebook page

“At Civic Ensemble we are interested in making theater a part of people’s everyday life,” Simmons said. “It is our belief that theater is everybody’s birthright. That’s an ironclad value.”

Herzog said the group caters to a need in the Ithaca community.

“The most exciting part about starting this company for me was giving opportunities to many local artists, some of whom don’t feel like they are getting enough opportunities to perform, to create, to experiment, to come into an artistic safe space and really be free to be themselves,” she said.

Tickets for the performance are $10 or pay what you can. They can be purchased here.


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