Jim Reyland’s play Stand unites Nashville community against homelessness

Reyland's play, Stand, is based on the playwright's real life encounter that began on the way to daily mass and the subsequent friendship with Johnny Allen, a homeless man in Nashville.

Reyland’s play, Stand, is based on the playwright’s real life encounter that began on the way to daily mass and the subsequent friendship with Johnny Allen, a homeless man in Nashville.

Jim Reyland’s play Stand is a true story about the late John Robert (‘JJ’) Ellis, who battled addiction for years living on the streets of Nashville, and the Good Samaritan who tried to help him. The author, a Music Row audio producer turned playwright, has developed some wide-ranging scripts in his career, but Stand holds special meaning, since it offers reflection on Reyland’s more than 25 years working as a volunteer assisting the homeless.

The play, directed by David Compton, assisted by Beki Baker, stars Barry Scott as JJ, and Chip Arnold as Mark, the Good Samaritan, who helps him. Praised by critics for its stark eloquence and extraordinary compassion, the original 2012 run of Stand as well as the new production and national tour, were made possible through the support of HCA TriStar Health.

“I worked with Johnny Ellis for 10 years on the streets of Nashville,” said Jim Reyland, playwright of Stand. “After he died, I wrote this play about his life because I wanted people to understand his plight and the real life challenges he faced. Stand will now travel across the country so many more people can come to know Johnny and consider the world of the homeless and addicted. Our goal is to raise money to fight homelessness and addiction, not only in Nashville, but also across our country. Nashville Rescue Mission, Room in the Inn, and Salvation Army will receive 100% of the proceeds from tickets sold in Nashville.”