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All the Neighborhood's a Stage

and there's nothing better to do

but to sing the blues

while whipping you"

"I am using people's stories, in a literal way," said Anu Yadav, 26, shown performing her one-woman show at the Arthur Capper Community Center in D.C. (Dudley M. Brooks -- The Washington Post)

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_____Arts & Leisure_____
The Theater & Dance section has reviews and information about area theater events.

At another point in the play, she's Michael Kelly, an architect by training, the head of the D.C. Housing Authority who, in effect, is the District's biggest landlord in charge of projects like Hope VI.

"Frankly," his character says, "I'm holding up my end of the game . . . Where's schools, where's mental health, where's ex-offenders? Put me up against these other cats. If you look at government services equally, I'm a freakin' hero, I'm a loving hero."

It's tough task, "much harder than I thought," said Yadav, who expects to finish the play by the end of the year. She received a $2,500 grant from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities last year, and is being helped by Sol y Soul, the nonprofit District-based theater group. "I am using people's stories, in a literal way. You have to be vigilant in your process. You have to be sensitive and treat people as people. But it's painful, the ethics of what I'm doing. When are people just material for a play? When are they not just material? When are you just connecting with people?"

She connected with Miss Frazier -- or Debra Frazier, 53. She was at the play last night, sitting in folding chair at the back of the room. She moved out of 'Capers with her two daughters a little over two weeks ago, and now lives in a house in Northeast Washington with the help of a low-income voucher.

Frazier isn't sure if she's coming back to 'Capers.

"I still can't believe she did it," Frazier said, sitting on the porch of Yadav's house three days before. Yadav consults her and other women on the play -- to get a feel for how real it is. "She got our lives together, our experiences together, our struggle together, so that we won't be forgotten. She's created a concrete look at what happened from our point of view. She got us on paper."

Not to mention onstage.

" 'Capers" will be performed at 7:30 tonight through Saturday at the D.C. Arts Center, 2438 18th St. NW. 202-526-4417. $5 to $10 suggested donation.

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