Non-profit theatre company empowers local homeless, recovering addicts

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Several people who've seen the tough side of life, including incarceration, drug addiction, and homelessness are now seeing something else: their potential.

Carrie Gazzaruso grew up with a drug-dealing father, which she says led her into addiction for many years.

"I brought myself a life on the streets and that's no life at all," she said.

But life for Gazzaruso is different now thanks to her involvement in The Strindberg Laboratory, a non-profit theatre company offering building blocks to a better life.

At 47 years old, Christopher Simpson is now studying film at Los Angeles City College and co-starring in a modern take on the ancient Greek comedy, "The Birds."

Alan Knox has a different set of challenges, but he's still up to perform.

"I have at least three mental illnesses. I'm diagnosed with Asperger's disorder, delusional disorder and manic depression," Knox said.

Marshall May had a drug problem for about 20 years, but says this program helped him get back on track.

"If I can do this, if I can change and put a smile on somebody's face then that is worth everything that I've been through," May said.

Michael Bierman is the director of The Strindberg Laboratory, and Meri Pakarinen serves as the artistic director.

For more information on The Strindberg Laboratory and on the satirical comedy "The Birds", visit

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