As time goes by, memories of specific moments in time tend to fade, as generations come and go. That reality is different in Boyle Heights though, where robust, shared histories intertwine down every road, street and alley.
Though impossible to capture in any one work of art, a new theatrical production at Casa 0101 in Boyle Heights hopes to embody the essence of many of those moments. A collaborative piece written by playwright Josefina López, director Corky Domínguez and the play’s ensemble cast, “Remembering Boyle Heights: Part 2”, opened Saturday and continues at the local venue through next month.
As you enter Casa 0101, the hallway leading to the theater becomes an altar lined with paper marigolds and cultural ofrendas dedicated to every chapter in history that has helped shape Boyle Heights. Colorful paintings illustrating those stories are strung above the stage, where the show’s narrative comes to life.
Set outdoors at the base of “El Pino”, the large pine tree between Boyle Heights and East LA, the play opens with an ELAC professor listening to students researching local history. Those students then lead the 14 scenes of the play, sharing monumental events and movements that have given the community its signature charms.
There’s the music of el barrio from the rancheras made famous by Lucha Reyes, whose statue stands proudly at Mariachi Plaza, to the underground punk rock scene of the 70s and 80s. There are the voices from the chants of Roosevelt students during the East LA Walkouts to those heard in a homage to “Always Running”, a memoir on gang life written by Luis J. Rodríguez (who attended Saturday’s premiere, incidentally.)
Also at the premiere and featured in the show was muralist Sand One, whose signature big-eyed doll paintings cover many Eastside walls. Her story embodies another key component of the show: feminismo. This essence is captured through the story of how Josefina Lopez, Casa 0101’s founder, found her way in life.
One scene that brought tears to my eyes was the show’s documentation of forced sterilizations throughout the 60s and early 70s at the County Hospital in Boyle Heights. The play did justice to the women victimized by using their voices to shine light on the malpractice and ensure it would never happen again.
Boyle Heights is a special place, and people care so much about the stories that made the community what it is, because they are their stories too. There truly is something for everyone in this play, so go watch it before the run comes to an end.