By Joe Straw
Many years ago, I traveled to Boyle Heights to see a show; actually, it was more like I was dragged there from the Westside.
Getting out of the car was difficult. An old ficus tree’s root stopped the car door from opening all the way, and concrete sidewalks lifted and turned making it difficult to walk upright from the car.
Pedestrians and other small creatures were having trouble as well. Still, families strolled into a bodega and church goers sauntered hand-in-hand to a place of worship.
And I wrote: “Can you take a moment to feel your life?”
Casa 0101 was a small black-box theatre with an equally small elevated stage, hardly enough to comfortably squeeze three people onto the playing area.
The seats were hard metal folding chairs, crammed into the tiny dark room. We sat on the floor level and looked up at the players, which was somewhat uncomfortable but manageable. Still, this was just the kind of venue that I thrived in. It was an intimate theatre space, where we watched actors, personal and up, up close.
I was not expecting much when the actors appeared on stage but then something magical happened. I put down my notepad and noted the acting was decidedly different. The moments on stage projected beyond the lights of the rostrum and into my conscience being. Yes, the performances put an enormous smile on my face.
It has been eight years since that first encounter with Casa 0101. And as I have come to understand over the years, visiting Casa 0101 on the weekends makes the rest of my week decidedly better.
Boyle Heights is not home, but when Casa 0101 moved to their new location, across the street and just a few doors east, it was the closest to feeling at home.
The new Casa 0101 is bigger and brighter. The moment one enters the theatre, one feels the artistry at play, in the hall, on the walls, and in the theatre. And as Casa 0101 grew, the community grew. The trees were removed, the sidewalks were fixed, and families flocked to see theatre here.
Los Angeles theatre needs a Latino voice, and Boyle Heights is the heart of that voice. Casa 0101 is an open space of creativity for writers, actors, and directors and for those who have small dreams of being that source of creativity. Casa 0101 is more than a theatre, it is a place that gives a creative heart to the community.
The theatre is seeking warm hearts and kindred spirits. They need 350 patrons donating $25 a month to keep the theatre running. They are about half way toward reaching this goal and there is only a couple of months left to go - until the end of June 2018.
Or, let’s look at it another way – the daily cup of coffee at Starbucks costs you $50.00 per month. Support Casa 0101 – it’s only half that amount and EVERYONE is welcomed.
Please keep this premier community-based arts program in Boyle Heights open and serving the community.
Fortitude pays off and it is something everyone at Casa 0101 has, starting with Josefina López, Emmanuel Deleage, and Edward Padilla in the video above.
Josefina is a quintessential theatrical shaman who in her colorful regalia holds a special key to unlocking the box that sits center stage.
The key, in her hand, is translucent, and it moves like a sparkler. The words follow her as she writes in the air, suddenly absorbed through the keyhole.
Inexhaustible, she reaches center stage, and nightly at 8:00 pm she turns the key in her hand, mystically and magically the box opens and from the entangled mass - out floats the words, the fierce whisperings of conflict, accompanied by the spirits, and the floating fragments of dispirited lives seeking a truth.
The players, now in a cloistered existence, manage to find a way out of the box to create a character, and find an objective like the remarkable actors that have graced the stage, Miriam Peniche, Rocio Mendoza, Andrews Rey Solorzano, Javier Ronceros and the beautiful and talented Zilah Mendoza.
The imaginative spirit runs wild in Boyle Heights. Josefina López is the catalyst and Casa 0101 is the venue.
Take a moment of your time and visit Casa 0101 if you love theatre and find it in your heart to help keep the magic alive.