By Maria Gonzalez
Twenty years in the making, Josefina Lopez’s “Real Women Have Curves” has stood the test of time, portraying women’s issues, particularly those of Latinas.
A gala event was held Friday for the opening of the new CASA 0101 theater, coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the play.
“The Boyle Heights community was always neglected, and I always wanted to come back and do a cultural revival,” said Lopez, founder of CASA 0101 and writer of “Real Women Have Curves.”
The play is set in near-sweatshop conditions in the late 80s at East Los Angeles.
It is told through the eyes of Ana, played by Margie Gutierrez Lara.
Ana is a coming-of-age character, who has dreams of going to college, but is stuck helping out at her sister Estela’s sewing-factory.
The storyline focuses on Estela, the undocumented owner of a sewing factory, played by Miriam Peniche.
The play focuses on the struggles she goes through in trying to keep her sewing factory open long enough to pay her creditors for the machines and clean her record so she can apply for permanent residency like her employees.
Lopez explains how this differs from the award-winning film, because the immigration plot wouldn’t work for the movie.
Peniche was an original cast member in the first Los Angeles production of Real Women Have Curves in 1998.
Peniche delivers her character with an uplifting energy that could make a viewer want to cheer for her when she does everything she can to try to save her sewing-factory, and hide from “La Migra,” aka the Border Patrol.
Along side her are loyal workers Rosali, played by Noemi Gonzalez, and Pancha, played by Marticia De Cardenas, who also go through struggles of their own.
Gonzalez’s character portrays a woman that is insecure of her body.
Although she is the thinnest from the other women she feels the need to lose weight so she could be a size four.
Pancha, a self-deprecating and submissive wife is struggling to break-away from her domineering husband.
De Cardenas transmitted the pain her character Pancha was going through with a choked-up voice.
Bringing in the Mexican traditions and stern personality is the mother of Ana and Estela, Doňa Carmen played by Jonée B. Shady.
Shady stumbled through her lines at times, but came back and delivered an outstanding performance.
Portraying a traditional Mexican mother, strict and somewhat harsh with her daughters, criticizing their weight, but always with their best interest at heart.
All the women in the play face challenges that are still relevant to women today, such as self-esteem, immigration and domestic abuse.
One of the most powerful scenes from the play is when the five women undress themselves down to their undergarments to show that yes, “real women have curves.”
This evokes empowerment for women that they should love their body because it’s beautiful and unique having stretch-marks or cellulite and so on.
Many can relate to this because of the pressure society puts on people to look a certain way.
Although, CASA 0101 has a new home they are keeping the other theater open, which is now call the Little Theater.
“We are keeping the Little Theater open for more controversial and experimental plays,” said Lopez.
The play will run until Oct. 23.
Ticket prices are $20 admission, $17 students and seniors, with ID, and $12 Boyle Heights residents, with ID, and $12 Spanish matinee performances.
For reservations call (323) 263-7684, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.CASA0101.org.