Remembering Boyle Heights, created and devised by Josefina López, Corky Dominguez and The Remembering Boyle Heights Ensemble, is a theatrical presentation of both the history of Boyle Heights and its social activism, which is inspired by the resistance of the citizens of Boyle Heights to the increasing threat of gentrification. The style of the production calls to mind the decades long work of El Teatro Campesino, which uses stylized movement, a direct Brechtian approach, and entertaining vignettes that are both pointedly serious and infectiously humorous.
Remembering Boyle Heights begins with a preshow in the lobby of the CASA 0101 Theater featuring delightful song and dance by Ángel Michel Juárez, and touching monologues by Yvette Karla Herrera as a struggling artist, and Joe Luis Cedillo as a mariachi on the cusp of losing his apartment to an unscrupulous landlord. Also available in the Jean Deleage Gallery section of the lobby is an exhibit mounted by the Boyle Heights Museum honoring the life and legacy of Edward Ross Roybal, the first Mexican American elected to the Los Angeles City Council in the Twentieth Century.
Once into the auditorium, the audience is taken on an historical journey revealing the multicultural roots of Boyle Heights from indigenous people to the Spanish incursion to the American usurpation, and on to its status as melting pot of the many cultures and ethnicities that live there—Mexican Americans, African Americans, Chinese Americans, Jewish Americans, Filipino Americans, Japanese Americans, Italian Americans, and more. As a fairly recent citizen of Los Angeles, I was delighted to learn of the cultural harmony that prevailed in Boyle Heights up until Executive Order 9066 tore the fabric of the neighborhood. Did you know that Canter’s Deli started in Boyle Heights and remained in business there until the 1970s?
The ensemble cast under the direction of Corky Dominguez includes the performers mentioned above, as well as Michael Berckart, José Alejandro Hernandez Jr., Megumi Kabe, Marcel Licera, Jackie Marriott, Roberta H. Martínez, Allyson Taylor and Raymond Watanga. The actors are committed, infectiously enthusiastic, and a little rough around the edges, just as they should be.
Remembering Boyle Heights continues next week on Friday and Saturday, December 14 and 15th at 7:45pm and Sunday, December 16 at 4:45pm. In addition, a matinee has been added on Saturday, December 15 at 2:45pm. Go a little earlier for the enlightening Ed Roybal exhibit. It all happens at CASA 0101 Theater, 2102 East First Street (at Louis Street) across the street from the Hollenbeck Police Station in Boyle Heights.