Casa 0101 celebrates 15 year anniversary

Fiesta–Writer Josefina Lopez presents her orignal play "Piñata Dreams" to a full house at Casa 0101's main stage on Dec. 14 in Los Angeles. CN/ Jesus Figueroa
Fiesta–Writer Josefina Lopez presents her orignal play “Piñata Dreams” to a full house at Casa 0101’s main stage on Dec. 14 in Los Angeles. CN/ Jesus Figueroa

By Jesus Figueroa

Former East Los Angeles College student Josefina Lopez prides herself in bringing theater productions to the community she grew up in.

Casa 0101 is a theater in East Los Angeles. It was founded by Lopez and is run by several volunteers.

“My vision for the future is that we have nurtured enough Latina/o writers [and] that a new Theatrical literature exists because of us,” Lopez said.

From a humble start as a small black box theater to the larger state-of-the-art theatre, Casa 0101 brings stories of Latinos in the US to the stage.

Casa 0101 now has a small paid staff but is still run by mainly volunteers.

The plays put on at Casa 0101 bring a sense of awareness to the culture of East LA.

“As far as theater, I would like many of our plays to dramatize the historical injustices to the Latino community here in the U.S., as well as the contributions of Latinos to the U.S. left out of our history books. I want to tell and train writers to help tell all the stories not being told about us,” Lopez said.

Lopez looks to bring a voice to the people who are silenced by disability and are over looked.

“I want to mentor others to open other art and theater spaces on First St., so we can have a theater row,” Lopez said.

The productions at Casa 0101 are already being translated for American Sign Language and include Spanish dialogue.

The efforts of including other languages is to help more people receive the message of her plays, that way the entire community can be involved.

“Right now we have a donor who is also the founder of Theater for Everyone, “Teatro Para Todos,” who is paying for it as our attempt to start a theater for the Deaf and a theater in Spanish,” Lopez said.

The vision she has, includes bringing more of the community together.

Also, Lopez would like to be able to educate people so they can tell their stories in hopes that one day as many Latino stories as possible can be seen and heard

The mainstream society over looks the Latino community and only recently an emergence of Hispanic TV shows, movies and actors have come to the American TV and movie scene.

There are more people that Lopez looks to include in her vision for the future of theater in East LA.

“I had a writing student share with me how difficult it is to live in three worlds – Mexican, American and the deaf community world. I began to see how this community is voiceless in every way and we need to include them in our storytelling and mission,” Lopez said.

She also hopes that they find the funding to do an ASL interpretation version of every production.

Casa 0101 is a stage for play production, but the staff also offers courses to the community, which help train people to write, act in and produce plays.

Many theater students from ELAC have gone to Casa 0101 to get ‘real-world experience’ while working on a stage production.

The group encourages students from ELAC to participate.

“We need students from ELAC and are very appreciative of their contribution to our theater. I am happy that we have students from ELAC here because I went to ELAC years ago as an undergraduate and know what it’s like to be a young student hungry for experience in a real theater,” Lopez said.

“There are internships for students, but they must be mature and a leader to self guide.  We are a tiny staff of mostly volunteers, so we need all the help we can get. However, (the website) also needs volunteers who take initiative, rather than wait to always be told what to do.”

All the work and dedication Lopez puts into Casa 0101 makes her a strong leader in the community.

She recieved national recognition when her play, “Real Women have Curves,” was produced into a major motion picture, starring America Ferrera.

With other theater companies having stages in downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood and West LA, Casa 0101 is the only major play producing stage in East LA.

“It has always been my mission to do theater in my community. I’ve never aspired to have a theater anywhere else,” Lopez said.

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