Love on San Pedro
Cornerstone Theater Company produces new plays through the collaboration of people of many ages, cultures and levels of theatrical experience, building bridges between and within diverse communities. Our work is based on the conviction that aesthetic practice is social justice, artistic expression is civic engagement, and that access to a creative forum is an essential part of the wellness and health of every individual and community. For over 27 years, we've brought together an ensemble of professional artists with people who would never think of themselves as artists to produce works of excellence based on the stories, concerns and issues of a given community.
Our plays are staged in theaters and in parking lots, in factories, schools and subway stations. We strive to include people who have not been on stage or even seen theater. We've taken up residence in small towns and urban neighborhoods, collaborating with locals from start to finish to tell their unique stories through theater.
Cornerstone's current work, The Hunger Cycle, is a series nine world premiere plays about hunger, justice and food equity issues, spanning six years. As our company discussed the issues that concerned us, such as economic disparity, immigration, and urban renewal, we uncovered a common thread. "Hunger" has a resonance that reverberates throughout our sprawling metropolis: the grim reality of food insecurity (1.6 million LA County residents are at risk of hunger), the movement for locally grown and GMO-free food, the hunger for cultural connection and understanding that pulls at our city's seams. We felt the theme of hunger could connect many communities in L.A. and beyond, and was ripe for artistic exploration and expression.
The "Hunger Cycle" has taken us to Homegirl Café, a division of Homeboy Industries that trains ex gang members in the culinary arts; to the urban farms of south Los Angeles fighting for food sovereignty; and most recently to our public schools where cafeteria workers, school garden activists, and Hot Cheeto-loving students (and teachers?) duke it out over school food.
Artbound posts will focus the latest play in The Hunger Cycle -- "Love on San Pedro," written by James McManus and inspired by the people who live, love and work in Skid Row, downtown Los Angeles. Cornerstone spent over a year developing the play through personal interviews and story circles facilitated by Skid Row-based leaders and organizations. "Love on San Pedro" sheds light on a neighborhood that lies in stark contrast to the city's glitzy image. It's the "invisible" Los Angeles where homelessness is the norm and hunger, poverty, substance abuse and mental illness exist in startling numbers. Of the 26 actors in "Love on San Pedro," four are professional actors and 22 are community members.
Over the next few weeks, you'll dive into Cornerstone's process of creating a large-scale play in Skid Row. You'll meet the community members who contributed their stories to the play and are experiencing being on stage for the first time. You'll encounter the challenges and surprises of creating art in a community setting, from the playwright's process to the scenic artist's approach to site-specific design. You'll follow the day-in-the-life of a community actor living and working in Skid Row, from morning to an evening spent on the stage at Los Angeles Mission. You'll learn about those at the frontlines of Skid Row, working in housing, health and the arts with seemingly unending spirit. You'll get a taste of some of the art being created in the community, and perhaps reevaluate the relevancy and impact of Skid Row in Los Angeles' cultural and social landscape.