Cornerstone Theater Company

Change in Watts

The Watts Residency is the first production in our Change Series and is being created in collaboration with multi-disciplinary artist Nancy Keystone and members of her theater company Critical Mass Performance Group. Together, we are exploring the dramatic changes taking place in the city of Watts, associated with the redevelopment of a community that generations of its members have called home for nearly 70 years.

The Jordan Downs Housing Project in Watts was built in the mid-1940s as the first Veterans Housing Project in the country and is currently home to 2,400 low-income Angelenos. The 700-unit complex is currently undergoing a massive redevelopment plan, demolishing the existing buildings to make way for a modern urban village with mixed income housing, restaurants, and retail. The development is expected to take up to 10 years to complete and will mean big changes for the community and for residents, some of whom have lived at Jordan Downs for generations.

How will these changes impact people, their families, and community? Who will benefit and who may be harmed? How does a community hold on to it’s history while facing an unknown future?

In collaboration with Jordan Downs residents, we are exploring these questions and aim to create a multifarious spectacle in and around the changing complex.

The final site-specific production coming this Spring 2019 will be a 10-day festival that may include an on-going mural painted by young artists, recorded oral histories, scenes and vignettes, a bicycle procession, videos by and about youth, a community music jam, a fashion show, sharing of favorite recipes, an historical archive of residents who occupied the building, and a place to imagine the future.