CASA 0101 invites community to remember roots

Giving her all—Angel Michel Juarez, began the show singing and dancing. CN: Julie Santiago

By Giselle Palomera

CASA 0101 theater hosted the opening of “Remembering Boyle Heights” on Nov. 9 with VIP appearance by Lucille Roybal-Allard and a cast and crew of East Los Angeles College students and community members.

The Boyle Heights Museum presented the art exhibit, “Roybal: A multi-racial catalyst for Democracy Celebrating the Life of Edward Ross Roybal, the first Mexican-American to be elected to the Los Angeles City Council in the 20th century,”  and is now showing in the Jean Deleage Art Gallery located in the lobby                 of CASA 0101.

The art exhibit is about the Boyle Heights community and the talent and culture that comes from its diverse people. Its main piece is a bust of E.R.Roybal, made by artist and ELAC alumnus Pedro Rios Martinez.

Another past ELAC student who exhibited their photography and artwork was Gino Cervantes whose pieces showed the life of a WWII veteran who he befriended as he grew up in the Boyle Heights community.

The cast of “Remembering Boyle Heights” has opened its doors to the public with a world premiere featuring students and alumni from ELAC as well as members of surrounding communities and local universities.

The diverse cast offered a mostly pantomimed Boyle Heights historical timeline as a celebration of the culture, as all the actors switched between characters.

The characters are based on diverse members of the Boyle Heights community during significant decades and gentrification events.

“This is not a play. This is part scripted, devised, part immersive and mostly a theatrical celebration of memory of Boyle Heights past and present,” said director and co-writer Corky Dominguez.

The theatrical celebration is set up in three parts with the first beginning in the foyer with a monologue by Jose Luis Cedillo, who plays a gentrified mariachi in this scene.

While performing, Angel Juarez has the other half of the audience emerged in her own monologue with song            and dance.

Juarez is an undergraduate at ELAC and has been part of the Theater Department since 2016.

During the second part of the show, the audience enters the stage of the Black-Box Theater to find themselves in the middle of an argument between gentrifying developers and various members of the community.

Boyle Heights Legacy—Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, spoke about the importance of the show. CN: Julie Santiago

During the third part of the theatrical celebration the audience finds their way to their seats while the actors and actresses switch characters and scenes. The rest of the play follows the timeline of gentrification through the decades until now and even offers an homenaje to Tonantzin, an Aztec mother goddess.

On its opening night, the 99-seat Black Box Theater filled its seats. Among the audience was Lucille Roybal-Allard, Roybal’s daughter.

Roybal helped pave the way for Latinos and other underrepresented minorities in congress and was first elected in 1949 after losing the first time. His fight had only begun back then and continues to be fought today through activists and anti-gentrifiers.

Roybal-Allard now follows her father’s footsteps as she was the first Latina woman to be elected 25 years ago into Congress. She honors the legacy of her father as she continues to fight for the community she grew up in.

“When I was growing up here, it was unheard of (for Latina women) to attend Yale or Harvard. That just didn’t exist. Now there is a bigger opportunity and we have to consider how fragile these opportunities are and not take advantage of that,” said Roybal-Allard.

Josefina Lopez the Founding Artistic Director of CASA 0101, produce and co-wrote “Remembering Boyle Heights.”

“As I was writing the play I realized that in order to write about a community, you need a community to tell this story. I told Corky that we needed the actors to improvise and take ownership of the information and the stories I wrote about and give life to them,” said Lopez.

Regardless of the thriving cast and crew, CASA 0101 was in danger of closing its doors due to lack of funds in January as announced by Lopez.

As of January, CASA 0101 set up the #CASA350 fundraising campaign to help secure 350 theater donors who would give an annual payment.

This annual payment will cover the 12-month period of $25 per month. They recently announced that they have 182 of the 350 donors as of November. These funds help cover costs of running a theater and rent.

Many ELAC theater, photography and art students find opportunities in small, local theaters and museums like CASA 0101 and therefore, community support is encouraged to keep these opportunities going.

The show will have a six-week run, from Nov. 9 to Dec. 16 alongside the art exhibit and then through Feb. 3, 2019. Discounted performance nights and tickets will be available. For more information call the Box Office at 323-263-7684.

Only Black and white—ELAC alumnus Gino Cervantes spoke to viewers about his techniques and inspiration on his photos. CN: Julie Santiago

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *