On Sunday evening, January 28, at 6 pm in the Chapel at TVC Main we’ll host a performance of Stand, followed by a thoughtful panel discussion featuring Charles Strobel who started Room in the Inn (as well as other panelists), exploring issues of homeless and how we respond to the needy among us.

The theatrical play Stand tells the true story of Johnny “JJ” Ellis, who spent three drug-addicted decades on the streets of Nashville, and the Good Samaritan who tries to help. The two person cast includes Barry Scott as “JJ” and TVC’s Chip Arnold as the Good Samaritan. This remount is directed by Beki Baker, with original direction by David Compton.

Stand originally toured throughout middle Tennessee in 2012, bringing attention to the problem of homelessness. Three years later, a national tour was organized with three public performances at TPAC’s Johnson Theater, as well as performances in St. Louis, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Jose. Thanks to a grant from HCA, 100 percent of ticket revenues were donated to homeless organizations in each city. (Nashville’s performances benefited Room in the Inn, The Nashville Rescue Mission and The Salvation Army.) “It doesn’t sentimentalize, but it certainly puts a face on the issue of homelessness,” says Arnold, an accomplished actor, director and writer who has anchored notable productions at Nashville Rep and Studio Tenn, among others. “It’s not about how society needs to address the problem of homelessness. It’s about one man’s personal relationship with someone who happens to be homeless.” 

And that’s an important distinction for Arnold, who sees Stand as both a challenge and an opportunity. “We’re all touched by the plight of the suffering, and it’s human nature to want to help. So perhaps we choose an organization and write a check — and there’s nothing wrong with that. But that’s just the first step. Let’s face it — it’s much harder to make eye contact with that individual on the street, to engage him as a fellow human being. Because then you’ve really risked something. If I can bring a sense of truth and honesty to my character, I’m hoping the audience will be inspired to take a chance on that next step.”