Cornerstone Theater Company

The Hunger Cycle Plays


The press is buzzing about CAFE VIDA!

Check out the LA TIMES feature by Hector Tobar

“Cafe Vida is “bursting with … truth, humor, and pain … it’s what Cornerstone does best.”
– BACKSTAGE  *Critic’s Pick*

“Garcés’ production is a kind of contemporary oratorio, well performed and peppered with songs and procession-like choreography … [I]t’s not easy to serve up a work of theater that’s both noble and smart in the same gulp. There’s an array of topical issues on their plate. Here, they remain fresh, rather than boiled down.” – LA WEEKLY (GO!)

“What makes Cornerstone an LA treasure, is they commit to giving voice to these communities, to a bigger idea … If you’ve never seen Cornerstone’s work, Cafe Vida shouldn’t be missed.” – Anthony Bynres, KCRW

“[A]nyone who’s hungry for a vital LA story told in compellingly theatrical terms should schedule a visit to LATC pronto.” – LA STAGE TIMES

“Lean and mean, perfectly integrated in its staging and bristling with authenticity, this production is undeniably one of the most generous, refreshing, and vibrant theatre pieces LA has seen in years.” – CULTURAL WEEKLY

Acclaimed playwright Lisa Loomer pens the first play in The Hunger Cycle, a collaboration between Cornerstone, Homeboy Industries and Homegirl Café. Chabela and Luz are rival homegirls ready to leave the life and begin anew at Café Vida — the only place in the city that gives young women and their troubled pasts a genuine second chance to start a new life free of violence. It’s here that these former enemies choose “la vida” over “la muerte” as they learn to compost, tend a garden, julienne an onion, and rock your lunch order with a smile and a heaping side of transformation.



Join us throughout the CAFÉ VIDA run for pre- and post- show activities. You’ll have the chance to meet the artists, learn more about issues of hunger, justice, and food equity, and get a taste of more art being made in the community.

CAFÉ VIDA Thought of the Day
Thursday, May 3, 7:00 p.m.

Hear from Father Greg Boyle, Founder of Homeboy Industries




Writing about the Community – A Writers’ Salon I
Sunday, May 6 @ 4:00 p.m.

Meet acclaimed Café Vida playwright Lisa Loomer & Luis J. Rodriguez, author of the bestselling memoir Always Running, La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A.



Word on the Street
Thursday, May 10 @ 7:00 p.m.

Enjoy spoken word performances from Homeboy Industries & LA poets (also a Downtown Art Walk night!)



Telling Our Stories Through Dance
Saturday, May 12 @ 7:00  p.m.

Café VidaChoreographer and Artistic Director of CONTRA-TIEMPO Ana Maria Alvarez will lead you through a movement workshop exploring hunger. Through a series of movement explorations and exercises, you’ll create a performance that reflects your ideas and collective voice – you’ll then perform the piece for audience members as they enter the theater. No experience needed!

Writing about the Community – A Writers’ Salon II
Sunday, May 13 @ 4:00 p.m.

Meet acclaimed playwrights Luis Alfaro, (Cornerstone’s own Artistic Director) Michael John Garcés and Richard Montoya (Culture Clash co-founder) discussing their works made in the community. Moderated by Professor Tiffany Lopez at UC Riverside.


Employing Social Enterprise to Combat Hunger
Thursday, May 17 @ 10:30 p.m.

The Social Enterprise Alliance – Los Angeles Chapter will co-host a panel discussion detailing how some local nonprofits use social enterprise programs to eradicate hunger while empowering individuals and communities.

Real Talk: On Gender Violence
Thursday, May 31 @ 7:00 p.m.

Join members of the cast from Café Vida, along with members of the Cornerstone Theater Company and Peace Over Violence communities in this very important dialogue on Domestic and Intimate Partner Violence.



All events are general admission and free.

Event lineup subject to change.

Lisa Loomer

"My research has been inspiring and surprising and heartbreaking, not just at Homegirl, but with people all over the city who are dealing with the issue of hunger - from completely different perspectives. Homegirl Café is a place of transformation and part of that transformation is through food. Being there, you see that what also really feeds us … is connection. Connection across a dinner table, across a neighborhood, across a city, across borders. Maybe when we get that, there will be less hunger?”

Lisa Loomer is best known to L.A. audiences for THE WAITING ROOM, LIVING OUT, and DISTRACTED, which had world premieres at The Mark Taper Forum and were subsequently produced in New York at The Vineyard Theater, Second Stage, and The Roundabout, respectively. EXPECTING ISABEL had its world premiere at Arena Stage and its west coast premiere at The Taper. TWO THINGS YOU DON’T TALK ABOUT AT DINNER, recently premiered at The Denver Center. Her first play, BIRDS, was produced by South Coast Repertory. Other theaters that have produced her work include Trinity Repertory, Seattle Repertory, Missouri Repertory, The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Theater Works, and The Williamstown Theater Festival. Her work has also been produced in Europe, Mexico, Egypt, and Israel. Other plays include MARIA, MARIA, MARIA, MARIA!; ACCELERANDO; LOOKING FOR ANGELS, BOCON!, and BROKEN HEARTS (for Cornerstone) which have been produced at such theaters as The Public Theatre, Intar, The Los Angeles Theatre Center, Mixed Blood, The Kennedy Center, Seattle’s Group Theater, and The La Jolla Playhouse, as well as in Europe and Mexico.

Ms. Loomer is an alumna of New Dramatists. Awards include the Jane Chambers Award, the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, The Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award, a Glarland Award, a Laurie Foundation Award, the American Theatre Critics Association Award, (twice), an Imagen Award for positive portrayals of Latinos in all media, and two nominations for The Pulitzer. As a screenwriter, she was part of Sundance’s first film lab in Cuba. Film credits include GIRL, INTERRUPTED, and she has written sitcoms, dramas, and pilots for TV.

Michael John Garcés

For Cornerstone, Michael has directed Café Vida by Lisa Loomer, Making Paradise by Tom Jacobson, Shishir Kurup and Deborah Wicks La Puma, 3 Truths by Naomi Iizuka, Someday by Julie Marie Myatt, attraction by Page Leong, and The Falls by Jeffrey Hatcher (at the Guthrie Theater). He also wrote Los Illegals, created in residence with communities of day laborers and domestic workers. Los Illegals was subsequently produced by Teatro Bravo in Phoenix; it is published inTheatre Magazine (Yale School of Drama/Duke University Press -

Directing credits at other theaters include, most recently, red, black and GREEN: a blues by Marc Bamuthi Joseph (Yerba Buena Center for the Arts) and Oedipus El Rey by Luis Alfaro (Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company), and he has worked at many theaters across the country. His full-length plays include THE WEB (needtheatre), points of departure and customs (INTAR Hispanic American Arts Center) and Acts of Mercy (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater); a solo performance, agua ardiente (The American Place); short plays include catch (Active Cultures), hymn in three parts (Chalk Rep), inhabited and in the Zone (Red Fern Theatre Co.), tostitos (EST Marathon of One-Act Plays), on edge and the ride (Humana Fest.), audiovideo (The Directors Project) and sandlot ball (Mile Square). He collaborated with composer Alexandra Vrebalov on the oratorio Stations, which received its premiere at the Rhode Island Civic Chorale and Orchestra and was also performed at the NOMUS Festival in Novi Sad, Serbia.

Michael is on the executive board of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and serves on the Ovation review Committee for the Los Angeles Stage Alliance. He is a recipient of the Princess Grace Statue, the Alan Schneider Director Award, a TCG/New Generations Grant, the Non-Profit Excellence Award from the Center of Non-Profit Management and is a Southern California Leadership Network Fellow. He is a company member at Woolly Mammoth and a proud alumnus of New Dramatists.

Nephelie Andonyadis

Scenic Designer

Meghan E. Healey

Costume Designer

Tom Ontiveros

Lighting Designer

Bruno Louchouarn

Sound Designer

Ana Maria Alvarez


Juliette Carrillo


Nikki Hyde

Stage Manager

Inside Café Vida

A look inside Café Vida, our collaboration with Homeboy Industries & Homegirl Café! Written by Lisa Loomer. Directed by Michael John Garcés. April 26 – May 20, 2012 @ Los Angeles Theatre Center.


CAFÉ VIDA: Behind-the-Scenes with Playwright Lisa Loomer

Playwright Lisa Loomer talks about Café Vida, our collaboration with Homeboy Industries & Homegirl Café! April 26 – May 20, 2012 @ Los Angeles Theatre Center.


CAFÉ VIDA: Behind-the-Scenes with Fr. Greg Boyle

Fr. Greg Boyle talks about Café Vida, our collaboration with Homeboy Industries & Homegirl Café! April 26 – May 20, 2012 @ Los Angeles Theatre Center.