Our Purpose & Process

Our Purpose & Process

Our Purpose

“Affordable Housing: The Musical” blends powerful stories and good-humored political satire to reset the conversation about affordable housing in our community (and have some fun while doing it!).

How can the power of musical theater uniquely illuminate the urgent need for housing that a wide range of residents can afford? How might putting local political debates to music change up the hot-button issue of affordable housing? How can the lived experiences of homeless individuals transform dialogue about our community’s priorities? 

Set in the fictional town of Church Mound, “Affordable Housing: The Musical” asks us to see a “community problem” as our problem. This musical was made by and for community. Developed through a year-long collaborative process in Chapel Hill, the musical is rooted in the lived experiences of workshops participants — many of whom have faced immense challenges finding affordable and safe housing in Orange County. Joined by grassroots allies, the cast came together to create this musical from scratch, and to bring these stories to bear on local political dialogue about affordable housing.

Musical cast members during rehearsal for in-process performance

Our Process

Picture this: Every Friday since September of 2018, 15-30 cast members filter into the fellowship hall of a local church — coming from work, school, and all kinds of long days filled with the stresses of making it through. We eat dinner together, prepared by different cast members, and through that fellowship, begin to shed the weight of the week. We finish our meals, lingering over conversations, but making our way to the center of the hall. The warmup music starts, and we all begin to dance our way out of our rigidity and laugh with each other, as we “flock,” “noodle,” and “walk-it-out” to the music. Welcome to this week’s workshop!

Through these weekly workshops…

  • We dance (and form choreography you’ll see);
  • We goof off (and come up with the jokes and jabs you’ll hear);
  • We play all kinds of theater games (and craft the scenes you’ll experience);
  • We write poems (and create the lyrics you’ll hear);
  • We get out of our comfort zones (and learn a lot together);
  • We improvise constantly! (and will continue to!)

And together, we are making this musical from scratch! Technically speaking for the theater folks in the audience, you are experiencing an ensemble-generated and devised original musical. Speaking plainly though, what you’re experiencing is the magical culmination of this company of creative people’s talents and stories.

We were brought together as a group by our shared belief that all members of our community deserve a safe place to call home. This musical is rooted in the lived experiences of workshop participants, many of whom have experienced immense challenges finding affordable and safe housing in Chapel Hill.

In Orange County, there is a gap of almost 5,000 housing units for households earning less than $20,000. There are 0 available units of any size affordable to families earning below 30% of Area Median Income.

This is the crisis we are facing — in Chapel Hill as in countless towns across the country. This musical is our collective response: an outpouring of stories to illustrate this crisis in a new way, an outlet for dismay at the pace of change, and an outcry for a greater sense of urgency.

So, “Welcome to Church Mound” — a fictional town that may feel familiar, and whose issues are all too universal. We thank you for visiting!