Written by Peter Howard Directed by Chris Anthony
High school is a hustle. At least it is in Lunch Lady Courage, Cornerstone’s third play in The Hunger Cycle. When Ana, aka Lunch Lady Courage, arrives at an urban campus with her food cart of healthy “Grab n Go” meals, she doesn’t expect to find a shadow economy. Donuts and candy sales raise funds for student clubs, an enterprising student peddles homemade tortas from his backpack, and a teacher sells Hot Cheetos to pay for classroom necessities. California spends nearly seven times more on its prison inmates than its K-12 students, and childhood obesity numbers are skyrocketing – so what’s a lunch lady to do? Inspired by Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and her Children and the people working and learning in Los Angeles schools, Lunch Lady Courage explores what happens when one cafeteria worker battles for the future and health of her own children, and the hundreds she serves every day.
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Here’s what the press is saying about the play:
Cornerstone Theater and the Los Angeles High School of the Arts have created something different and thought provoking with “Lunch Lady Courage.” Calling out society’s injustices over plastic lunch trays, these students prove they have a lot to teach. – Backstage
Certainly [Cornerstone] are out to tell a story, but the main goal is to utilize members of the community which is being portrayed and disseminate pertinent information in an imaginative way. And in that they succeed wholeheartedly. – Stage and Cinema
"We can look at cafeterias as microcosms of the larger school community, and indeed of society as a whole. How do the realities of our school cafeterias reflect the values we place on education and youth? How does the school food experience vary between vast urban high school campuses and smaller learning communities? How do young people see and experience the cafeteria environment? How is school food connected to success in learning and the universal hunger for a healthy and productive adulthood?”
Peter is a founding member of Cornerstone. He graduated from Harvard College with a degree in English and American Literature and holds an MFA from the Department of Drama of the University of Virginia. With Cornerstone, Peter has performed in, written, or otherwise collaborated on scores of productions in Los Angeles and around the country since 1986. As a playwright, his Cornerstone credits include Zones (an original, audience-interactive play exploring interfaith themes) and an American Muslim adaptation of You Can't Take It with You (the first adaptation ever approved by the Kaufman and Hart estate). More recently, he has authored rural community-specific adaptations of Lorca’s Blood Wedding and the Argonaut myth for Cornerstone's summer Institute. Regional theater work includes productions at the Mark Taper Forum, Williamstown Theatre Festival, American Repertory Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, Long Wharf, and the Guthrie. He has served on staff of the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ), and has worked extensively as a facilitator, playwright, director and teaching artist in a variety of arts programs serving high-school age youth. Currently, Peter directs the Beyond the Diagnosis program for Cornerstone, a groundbreaking partnership with the pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences, engaging communities across the country in conversation about HIV.
Chris Anthony (Associate Artistic Director, The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles) is a director, teacher, actor and administrator specializing in community-based art making. Holding an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts, she oversees SCLA’s Youth & Education programs. From youth development for teens (Will Power to Youth) to performances for very young audiences (Moth & Mustardseed) to partnerships with veterans (Cry Havoc!), SCLA programs and productions serve a wide variety of Angelenos. Chris is honored to work with the staff, teaching artists and classroom teachers who make those programs possible. Chris began her career with the St. Louis Black Rep where she has directed Othello, Romeo & Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She has been a guest lecturer at the UC Davis, University of Southern California, Cal State Dominguez Hills, Cal Poly Pomona and Laverne University. A former board member of TYA/USA, her other professional affiliations have included Cornerstone Theater, P.L.A.Y. at Center Theatre Group, TeAda, Plaza de la Raza, Shakespeare at the Huntington, The Actor’s Gang, and Young Native Voices.