Boyle Heights’ Casa 0101 Celebrates New Theater Era

CASA 0101 will start new season with ‘Real Women Have Curves’ at its new, bigger location.

By Gloria Angelina Castillo, EGP Staff Writer

The Boyle Heights’ Arts District on East 1st Street has a new attraction—though it’s already a neighborhood arts anchor.

Read this story IN SPANISH: Teatro de Boyle Heights Celebra una Nueva Era

Last Saturday, CASA 0101, a non-profit theater center founded in 2000, opened its doors to the public for an up close look at its new theater; a facility that is five times larger than their previous location just a block away. That theater has been renamed “Little CASA.”

Miriam Peniche interprets the role of a street vendor who is arrested for selling elotes (corn). Saturday’s open house included tours and entertainment by local musicians spoken word poetry and prize raffles. EGP Photos by Gloria Angelina Castillo

Josefina Lopez, CASA 0101 founder and co-writer of Real Women Have Curves, said Saturday’s event was the grand opening for the community and the realization of a promise she made to herself to give back to the community where she grew up.

The new theater seats 99 people, up from 55 at the old site, and has a rehearsal room, art gallery, offices, dressing rooms and a backstage area. Little CASA was all those things packed into one room.

The venue will open formally on Sept. 9 with a Gala to kick off the theater’s 2011-2012 season — which starts off with “Real Women Have Curves,” the play that made Lopez famous. The play, which was also made into a movie, turns 20 this year, and will be presented in both in English and Spanish.

Josefina Lopez, CASA 0101 founder, came to tears when she addressed the audience after a brief performance held at the new venue.

Lopez said many of the people whose lives are at the center of the story, “don’t even speak English,” and would not go to see it at a theater. “That’s the point I want to make, it’s inexpensive and it’s in Spanish— theater is not just for the rich,” Lopez told EGP.

As the daughter of immigrants who at one time was undocumented, Lopez said the theater ’s opening has great significance: If she could do it, “anything is possible,” she said.

“The arts is something that belongs to everyone, it’s not a luxury. It’s humanity and in the poorest neighborhoods that’s where you need the most artists, the most inspiration, that’s where people really need it,” she told EGP.

CASA 0101’s new Artistic Director Corky Dominguez says the new location will serve as a community cultural center that will also provide a safe space for residents to participate in art, music, and culture.

“It’s an opportunity for learning about their history and telling their own histories, an opportunity to share and engage,” he told EGP.

“The goal and mission of CASA 0101 is to nurture future story tellers, whether it’s through theater, through film, through art, through dance, spoken word—whatever we can do to have both of those who are artists and those who would be friends and come join and participate,” he said.

new Artistic Director Corky Dominguez doing the make up of two teenage actors in CASA 0101's acting class.

This season CASA 0101 will also have a “Brown & Out Play Festival” to highlight plays and monologues about and by gay Latinos, Dominguez said.

While CASA 0101’s new theater may be structurally solid, its financial state is still on shaky ground. CASA 0101 currently only has two paid staff members, and Lopez and her husband, Emmanuel Deleage, put up their home as a collateral for a loan to finance the conversion of the new location to a theater.

The non-profit has received financial support from the offices of LA County Supervisor Gloria Molina and Los Angeles Councilmember Jose Huizar (CD-14), but it has also been rejected by numerous grant funders, according to Lopez.

CASA 0101 is located at 2102 E. First St, Los Angeles 90033. For more information about programs and classes offered at CASA 0101, and for a schedule of upcoming productions, go to http://www.casa0101.org

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August 25, 2011  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

Comments

One Response to “Boyle Heights’ Casa 0101 Celebrates New Theater Era”

  1. Leslie on August 30th, 2011 1:13 pm

    This is a wonderful opportunity for “everyone”. To be able to express yourself, to have a place where a young talent can grow – in a way this reminds me of Living Literature Colors United, Where boys and girls came together, combinding their talents and desire to perform put on a performance in the Hollywood Community. Bringing together peer from all High Schools – Yes, very inclusive.. Yes, Yes, YES.

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