2013 Teatro del Pueblo – Ladybird
Unique holiday show uses art to make a difference in the community
What are the things that we carry? What are the things that we love that make us who we are? 24th STreet Theatre’s Teatro del Pueblo (“Theater of the Village”) presents the world premiere of a warm, funny and unique holiday play about love and sacrifice, created from stories shared by members of the local community during workshops with professional theater artists. Written by Laurie Woolery and Victor Vazquez, directed by Woolery, and supported by The James Irvine Foundation Exploring Engagement Fund, “Ladybird” gets four performances Dec. 7 through Dec. 15 at 24th STreet Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. All performances are in Spanish with English supertitles, and admission is only 24 cents.
The story of Norma, a Mexican immigrant who longs for home but comes to know and see the hardworking and generous members of her local neighborhood as a new, if different kind of family, Ladybird weaves together the true stories and real-life experiences of the residents of 24th STreet Theatre’s North University Park neighborhood.
Following the performance, 24th STreet literally brings the entire show into the heart of their community with a Posada (Christmas procession) that takes actors and audience into and around the neighborhood before bringing everyone back to the theater to celebrate with food, warm ponche (punch) and a traditional star-shaped piñata.
Ladybird was developed in a series of creative writing workshops, acting workshops and storytelling circles that began earlier this year.
Ladybird is written by Laurie Woolery and Victor Vazquez in collaboration with the ensemble; directed by Laurie Woolery; set design is by Ricardo Soltero; lighting design is by Bob Scales; sound design is by Will Schuessler; community engager is Allegra Padilla; and English supertitles are by Aleida Montejo. Live music by Carlos P. Hernandez-Mata.
The ensemble includes Yolanda F. Baza, Charlton Brio, Earl I. Briones, Lorena Bustillo, Dalia Canche, Jesus Castaños-Chima,Maria de Lourdes Conde, Angelica Diaz, Tony Duran, Abel Flores, Veronica C. Flores, Nicolas P. Garcia, Madelou Gonzalez,Deisy Gutierrez, Jacques Hurtado, Gabriela Martinez, Maria Ortiz, Ismael Ramirez, Aurora Rodriguez, Ivonne Rodriguez, Luis A. Valentan, Carolina Vargas and Liliana Vasquez.
“This turned into a much bigger project than we had initially envisioned,” explains Woolery. “When you start gathering stories from the community, you need a vehicle to house and honor them. There was such an outpouring, so much enthusiasm and passion, and the stories so inspirational, that we layered them together and a play burst forth. This is an amazingly committed group that has been creating and rehearsing for months despite juggling families, school, jobs – many of them are working more than one job.”
“I saw the impact that 24th STreet was making on my kids with their free afternoon ‘After Cool’ program, and I had always thought, how wonderful if they could do that with adults,” says local residentIvonne Rodriguez. “I’ve known these people from the neighborhood – I see them at the theater in line for a tamale or picking up their kids, and we say hello – but the kinds of stories that have come out while shaping this play are not the kinds of things we would ever have shared. Listening to and getting to know these people, the fire in their bellies that they have to live, has really changed my life. There’s always such tremendous energy in the ‘circle.’ I draw that energy in and it has helped changed the path of my life.” (A working mother of three who never graduated high school, Ivonne was inspired by the work 24th STreet does in the neighborhood and decided to test for her GED. She is now in her third semester at L.A. Trade Tech and will be applying to USC in January.)
Laurie Woolery is a director, playwright, educator and actor who has worked at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Goodman Theatre, Cornerstone Theater Company, South Coast Repertory, Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Denver Center, Los Angeles Theatre Center, Inge Center for the Arts, Ricardo Montalban Theatre, Deaf-West Theatre, fofo Theatre, Highways Performance Space, Sundance Playwrights Lab and Sundance Children’s Theatre. She is on faculty at Citrus College and California State University Northridge and serves on the Board of the Latino Producers Action Network, Network of Ensemble Theaters and the Children’s Theatre Foundation of America.
Ladybird will have four performances over the course of two weekends: Saturdays and Sundays at 3 p.m., Dec. 7 through Dec. 15. Admission is 24 cents. Secure parking is available for $5 in the lot on the southwest corner of 24th and Hoover. The theater is air-conditioned and wheelchair accessible. For reservations and information, call (213) 745-6516 or go to www.24thstreet.org. Appropriate for all ages.