You would think I was Latina with all the reviews I’ve done for CASA 0101 Theatre in Boyle Heights, but I’m just a Jewish girl from the Valley. Still, I’m amazed at the work that they put forth every time I attend. Its recent production, Chicanas, Cholas, y Chisme VI: Stand Up! Speak Out! is a collection of short plays written and performed by mostly women that touch on timely topics such as immigration, DACA, rape, women’s rights, LGBTQ, sexual abuse in the military, the 1968 Chicano walkouts, police violence and more.
The evening started out with the introduction of Vickie Castro who was one of the leaders at the time of the 1968 Chicano Walkout. She was a Cal State Los Angeles student who became the second Latino to be elected to the Los Angeles Board of Education. The walkout by students in mostly Eastside high schools was a protest against run-down campuses, lack of college prep courses, and poorly trained or “racist” teachers. 22,000 students left their classrooms and Mayor Sam Yorty proclaimed that they were under the influence of “communist agitators.”
We were also introduced to a transgender Latina woman who came from humble and poor beginnings and encountered massive discrimination throughout her early life. She went on to earn a Masters degree at Columbia University.
What I loved about the play is that the cast portrayed millennials along with Baby Boomer counterparts. Cast members depicted issues that have been experienced by Hispanic women both in the present as well as in the past and how it is shaped who they are today.
In the first vignette, November 8th, a group of Latinas learn that Trump has won the election. They are horrified and one is willing to sacrifice herself to personally kill him. She is eventually talked down by the others, but it gives us a glimpse of the terror members of that community felt (especially women) because there is so much more at stake.
Another standout segment was Once Upon A Time…Con DACA. A young woman, who is a class valedictorian and about to venture off to college is threatened with deportation when DACA is repealed. Belissa Escobedo is heart-wrenchingly honest and had the audience, including me, in tears. Afterward, a projection of a real young woman who was also a class valedictorian is projected on a screen. Belissa is someone who could go far as an actress. She is intuitively talented and real.
Lilian Tapia, who has been acting for decades, completely steals the show in several vignettes. She plays the part of an OCD / possibly autistic woman in Dirty Laundry who doesn’t want anyone near her in a laundromat. It irritates several customers and a young woman steps in to help. A policeman arrives and ends up shooting the young woman in front of her mother as she steps in to defend the mentally challenged woman. In Selling and Buying, Lillian portrays a pot-smoking grandma and is absolutely hilarious.
Sarah J Garcia is another remarkably talented performer with expert comic timing. In Selling and Buying she portrays an ad executive who has created a Chicano clothing line, along with her brother, featuring jail stripes. Both are Chicano but live in Newport Beach, California and are not in tune with the market they are selling to. Sarah has several other bits throughout the show and all were outstanding.
Lauren Kush plays a transgender man in Mx./Mrx who struggles when “he” needs to use the restroom. He goes into the women’s restroom because “he” is still biologically a “she” but encounters prejudice when confronted by a man who becomes angry that “he” would use the women’s restroom. A fight ensues, but two women who had encountered “her/he” in the restroom come to the rescue.
The topic of domestic and sexual abuse is addressed several times in the show portraying women who were raped by co-workers, family members, and military superiors. Cycles is about a grandmother, who had been abused as a young woman. She abuses her daughter who in turn abuses her daughter. The chain of violence continues until they all realize they need help.
Older Hispanic women – Baby Boomers – experienced abuse and sexual harassment when they were young but didn’t have the support to talk about it. In Regrets, an angry millennial daughter finally learns her mother’s story and why she wasn’t able to speak out against her abusers. It wasn’t something women felt comfortable doing in the 1970s. Thank goodness for #metoo.
I was impressed by the outstanding cast as well as the writers and directors who are all women.
350 subscription members
CASA 0101 is struggling to survive and is holding a fundraising campaign. They are looking for 350 subscription members at $25 per month to keep the theater open. The theater, founded by Josefina López, is an important creative venue for the community of Boyle Heights that gives voice to its culture and concerns. They present theatrical productions, film festivals, and free arts education for children and low-cost classes for adults. As we all know, arts funding is at the bottom of the finding barrel right now. If you can, please support the theater.
Quote from Josefina López
Women have been speaking out about violence and rape from the beginning of time, but this is the first time in history men believe women. Society is finally being forced to listen to women’s voices speaking their truth. This year, “Chicana, Cholas, y Chisme’s the is “Stand Up! Speak Out!”
“When Donald Trump got ‘elected’ women in the U.S. said, ‘Ya basta!’ Enough!’ Latinas like myself who attended the Women’s March in Washington D.C. have realized that progress for women will happen when women demand their rightful place in the world. We know that being well-behaved ladies has not gotten us very far. We refuse to be ‘trained to be contained’ and we are speaking up for our rights to exist in a world that does not make us apologize for being women and Latinas.”
“Chicanas, Cholas y Chisme VI: Stand Up! Speak Out!,” a Play Festival of 12 World Premiere Short 10-Minute Plays, is currently playing through April 15, 2018, on the Main Stage