Three Hots and a Cot: Homelessness, Addiction, and AIDS – a Book and a Playbook

Three Hots and a Cot book cover dark silhouette of a man against orange sky, as he faces homelessness, addiction, and AIDS.

I’m thrilled to announce the publication of my new book, Three Hots and a Cot, which is about homelessness, addiction, and  AIDS. the book is suggested reading for all first responders and medical personnel,  high school and college level classes in sociology, psychology, and drama, as well as for book clubs, and for fund and awareness raising activities for non-profits. You can purchase it via the Pay Pal buttons below – either as individual copies or with discounted prices applied to bulk purchases for book clubs, classroom assignments, etc. Go to the Pay Pal button at the bottom of this page for details. The book also is available on Amazon as a Kindle or in hard copy.

Until 2019, Three Hots and a Cot was available only for performing arts productions as a playbook. We (some homeless folks and I) became “almost famous” when we performed these scripts throughout the Washington, D.C. Metro area and on television. They are true stories of hardship, courage, and love among people who experienced homelessness, drug addiction, and AIDS. I scripted the biographies as monologues, and we performed them as dramatic readings. They have proven to be very valuable when used in fund or consciousness raising events in a variety of venues.

I LOVE the fact that the stories have been compiled into a book for everyone to relish, and I’ll share a summary of each of the stories below to give you an idea of what they’re like, so you can decide whether to buy it on my website or on Amazon. I do hope you continue reading after these brief notes addressed to people who need the contents in playbook format.

If you’re impatient, just scroll down to the next section!  winking smiley face with hand in "yes" position

Playbook for Producers, Directors, Thespians, Teachers, Community Orgs

If you are a performing arts producer, director, or teacher, you may prefer to have playbooks for your actors, stage managers, and directors. The scripts are also useful for community service organizations. The readings can be used singly or as a collection, and you can purchase them in playbook format (with or without line numbers, etc.).  Click on the this link

Three Hots and a Cot: Homelessness, Addiction, and AIDS

to purchase the Three Hots and a Cot playbook at the website for my company, My Persuasive Presentations, LLC. Below is the full description, but playbook payments are set up only on that business page. Through that page, we can discuss copyright usage permissions, numbers of copies, and see if you qualify for the non-profit discount. Thank you.

People Who Were Homeless, Addicted, or Had AIDS

Helped Me Help You!

Now, let’s get back to the contents of the book and the fascinating people and events that inspired me to script the real stories of normal, “everyday” people who found themselves in life-altering predicaments leading to homelessness, addiction, and AIDS. It was through them – and also because several Twelve Step programs allowed me to attend their closed meetings – that I learned invaluable lessons to use in life coaching and in counseling people in a non-judgmental, loving, and supportive way.


A Playbook and Now a Book on Amazon

Man in silhouette against an orange sky=book cover picture for Three Hots and a Cot"

These mini-biographies are authentic accounts of hardship, courage, and love among people who experienced homelessness, drug addiction, AIDS, and other life-wrecking hardships. They tell how “normal, everyday people” find themselves in a shelter for the destitute.

Here is a picture of some of the group when we were performing other works about homelessness with Voices From the Streets. (I’m the one with “the legs” – a volunteer at the shelter. The blond seated on the floor is the late Suzy Goldman, who first conned me into becoming a Producer and Director.)

Nancy Wyatt with homeless people rehearsing for performance

VOICES FROM THE STREETS Photo by Rick Reinhard (

Where Did We Perform the Scripts?

The homeless people and I performed Three Hots and a Cot throughout the Washington, D.C. Metro Area and as far away as Richmond, VA and Kansas City, MO. We did this under the umbrella of my non-profit, Variety Pack, which I formed to help the homeless after leaving Voices From the Streets.

We performed for a multitude of educational, religious, civic, and governmental organizations, including members of Congress and a Governor’s Conference on Housing and Homelessness.  Our performance also was recorded by the National Archives. One script was entered into the Congressional Record by Congressman Tom Lantos, and several were part of a cable television show which ran for months.


Nancy Wyatt receiving Governor's Gold Medal Award from Governor Wilder in Virginia

I received a number of unsolicited awards for this and related volunteer work. Among them were:

  • The International Woman of the Year Award
  • The Who’s Who of International Business and Professional Women’s Hall of Fame Award
  • The Who’s Who of American Women Award
  • The Governor’s Gold Medal Award (for work with homeless and addicted people)
  • The WDC*TV Women Making A Difference Award (for work with homeless and addicted people)
  • The One and Only Channel Nine (WUSA-TV) Award, 1990 (for work with homeless and addicted people)
  • Empire Who’s Who Among Executives and Professionals
  • Who’s Who of International Business & Professional Women – Hall of Fame Award (twice)
  • The American Jefferson Award, 1990 (for work with homeless people)

“Three Hots And A Cot”

homeless man with cup for change…is an expression which homeless people may use to refer to their (often unmet) goal of each day. They spend endless hours trying to find three hot meals and a cot on which to sleep. All material is authentic and is based on actual people’s real experiences. I scripted, produced and directed the presentations for our performances, which are designed to teach people about these situations and to reveal the beauty and strength of the storytellers.


The homeless “actors” were sharing about their own lives, except in one case in which we told the story of one of the children whose whole family became homeless. These homeless folks got so good that an audience member once accused me of having hired actors to pretend they were homeless!

Variety Pack Players Photo by Rick Reinhard

Some of the Variety Pack Players Photo by Rick Reinhard

Producers Ask, “How Long Does It Take To Tell These Stories About Homelessness, Addiction, and AIDS?”

classy figure in top hat leaning on a caneDuring a full-length show (1 – 1 1/12 hours), a Narrator introduces each account.  But, the monologues may be performed singly, or in small groups when 10 – 20 minutes is the time limit. The approximate time for each reading is listed with each script below.

The cast sometimes contained singers and musicians, so music often was added, based upon availability of talent.

The troupe conducted a Question and Answer session after the performances.

We still miss those whose lives already have ended.  Happily, most of the performers who survived ultimately found new jobs and homes, or they were reunited with their families and children; some went back to school, and most have their addictions under control.

Script Summaries: Homelessness, Drug and Alcohol Addiction, AIDS

Biographies as told to Nancy Wyatt by gay folks, straight folks, men, women, children, shelter operators, and a volunteer

picture of 8 homeless "actors" telling their stories

Some of the VARIETY PACK Players   Photo by Rick Reinhard (

Three Hots and a Cot – Description of Individual Monologues



A young man is laid off from his ‘good government job.’  His wife takes their baby and goes to live with her mother, and the landlord evicts him. Brokenhearted, he describes living in starvation on the streets, while still trying to find employment.  The two focuses are a)  how a typical, working American citizen can become homeless, and b)  homeless people are hungry people.  It describes what the typical emotional and physical symptoms are like.  Script:  6 – 9 minutes


A young woman’s husband leaves her with their four children.  This script follows her as she gets a minimum wage job; moves in with grandma; gets fired and arrested for shoplifting (she didn’t make enough money for rent AND food), and tracks her into the alleyways where she becomes a prostitute to make food money.  Eventually, she becomes a drug addict, who winds up in jail.  Later, she comes to the shelter for help.  But, there is no room at the inn.  The story is told from the point of view of the shelter operator who has to turn her (and hundreds of others) away.  Script:  7 – 9 minutes

homeless girl eating banana -pouting but no voice PLEASE, GOD

This story presents a newly homeless child’s viewpoint on homelessness.   She describes the shelter, the soup lines, the fear, and seeing ‘all these homeless people who look just like the ones she saw on t.v.!’  Unwittingly, she is being seduced by a drug pusher, even as she watches her own family life disintegrate, making her more vulnerable.  Script:  5 minutes

Nancy kissing her favorite panhandler "Old Conti"YOU CALL HIM ‘DERELICT.’ I CALL HIM “DARLING.”

This is a loving portrait of an old alcoholic panhandler, as he is viewed by a volunteer at the shelter. It is an attempt to humanize and give dimension to a homeless person who DOES fit the stereotype.  Script:  11 minutes  (performed by Nancy Wyatt)


This is the story of a young man from a Muslim Household.  He proceeds from the streets of Harlem to the military, to college, to a job as a police officer, and then to the shelter as he becomes lost in drug addiction.  While homeless, he acquired his Master’s Degree (Howard University) and became employed as a drug counselor.  He now has multiple advanced degrees, and he uses his strict upbringing, education, and experience as an addict to live his life constructively and to help others learn the same.  Script:  9 minutes


This script is the story of a young, upper-middle-class man who became homeless and, consequently, became sympathetic to the panhandler and the old woman pushing a grocery cart containing all her earthly possessions.  It is a call to action in the war on homelessness.  Script:  2 minutes


One of the things that became clear while working with homeless populations was that, at Christmas, the shelter residents and street people cared only about whether they could “scrape up” a gift for their children or parents. They had little interest in receiving presents themselves. In fact, if they were given a gift, they were very likely to give it to a family member. The next story gives us insight into their feelings.  Script: 2 minutes


(Pronounced “ring” “go.” The “D” is silent.) This is a revealing portrait of the many contradictory facets of a Black ex-convict, who was married to a minister and has great faith in God.  This person is a diabetic amputee and a drug addict.  The story addresses the issue of whether homeless people are lazy and unwilling to work.  And, it ends on a heartwarming note when he speaks of his volunteer work with homeless children.  Script:  8 – 10 minutes


homeless person with shop cartThis is a fairly light-hearted script which talks about the speaker’s ‘Most Unforgettable Characters’ at the shelter.  It describes a clown, an undercover agent, and some other colorful folks, ending with memories of Mitch Snyder.  Script:  6 minutes


This story traces the history of a former cast member from his life as a child prodigy “from the projects,” who sang with the National Children’s Choir for a Pope and two American Presidents, to his present state as a recovering drug addict with AIDS.  Script:  3 minutes


This monologue makes the point that homeless people are not just statistics.  It homeless man receiving food and watertells the story of an 80-year old man who walked from New York City to Washington, D.C., during the Housing Now March on Washington, even though he has brain damage and often cannot walk 2 blocks; the story of a doctor who masquerades as a bag lady and was refused admittance to a conference on “health care for the homeless” at which she was the keynote speaker, etc.  Displays humor and describes how homeless people help homeless people.  Script:  4 minutes


This story begins with an attempted suicide and traces the life circumstances which led up to that point, including the speaker’s suffering from sexual abuse as a child, through a drug overdose by his spouse in adulthood.   This story is very harsh, but it is beautifully executed by the actor/singer.  It is not for the weak-hearted.  Its importance lies in the fact that these things are happening to thousands of people all over the United States every day of our lives.  It also ends on a positive note.  Script:  6 minutes


This is a short, but hard-hitting script, describing conditions in a typical family shelter and then asking what kind of adults these children will become.  How can they support our tax base, if they grow up semi-literate or illiterate, succumb to the drug pushers, etc.?  The script may be used as an introduction to PLEASE, GOD; it may be used as a stand-alone monologue; or, it may be part of the Narration.  Script:  2 minutes       

These scripts are copyrighted by the author,  Nancy Wyatt,  with all rights reserved.  You may not copy, distribute, or perform them without the written permission of Nancy Wyatt.  When you purchase them, PayPal will notify My Persuasive Presentations, LLC that a payment has been received.  However, if you choose fewer scripts than the entire playbook, you must email, to tell us which scripts you chose.  (We offer the flexibility of choice, if you purchase scripts individually, so they may best suit your needs.)


Help Others Learn About Homelessness, Addiction, and AIDS

  1. You might be eligible for a discounted rate, if you purchase the book here for your book club or classroom use. You also may buy the paperback here as an individual purchase.

The paperback book for the reading public is available here at $10 + $3 shipping.

Discounted rates are available for book clubs, teachers who use this book as reading assignments, etc. 25 copies at $9 ea | 50 copies at $8 ea. | 100 copies at $7 ea. plus shipping.

Bulk Orders | classes/groups

  • You may purchase these stories as a book, online at Amazon.
  • If you want to stage a performance, you may purchase the scripts as a playbook. In that format, the manuscript is on 8.5 x 11 pages with line numbers and room for notes. Go to my business website for My Persuasive Presentations, LLC, where this same kind of page is posted. Find the purchase options and link to PayPal at the bottom of that page. To get to that page, click here.
  • You can book me to write new stories after interviewing folks in special circumstances.
    1. Typical examples are stories about veterans, people who have lost their homes because of government shutdowns, fires, bankruptcies, etc., people who are struggling with illness, or people facing other challenges of life, like Alzheimer’s disease or domestic violence.
    2. Please contact me for details.  The contact information is available at the end of this page.

Three Hots and a Cot As a Playbook

Again, to purchase this in playbook format, please go to this link: where I have set up PayPal options and instructions about the options. You may purchase the whole Playbook or individual scripts. If you are a non-profit and submit proof with a copy of your non-profit ID number, you will get the benefit of a reduced cost. Alternatively, anyone may purchase up to three scripts or up to six scripts of your choice.

Copyrights and Usage

Variety Pack Players Photo by Chris Keeley

A lot of hard work and expense was involved in creating these stories; so please abide by good ethics, as well as the law, and do not distribute, post, or otherwise share the scripts without permission and payment.  Thank you, and I hope you find them illuminating and enjoyable!  I offer them in LOVE on behalf of the brave men and women who have experienced homelessness.  

Break the Chain (of Domestic Violence)

I also authored a one-act play, called “Break the Chain,” which is about domestic violence.

Contact me now for more information, to purchase scripts, or to have me create original scripts for you!

logo with Nancy's contact information on it

Do It The Write Way! Let My Fingers Do Your Talking!