Cornerstone Theater Company


Being Present

Lynette Alfaro and Jesse Gamboa in Café Vida.

When we at Cornerstone engage members of a community, we typically ask folks to join us in a Story Circle. The Story Circle is a place where community members share their experiences. They answer a series of questions that begins with their names, where they live, and maybe even includes what they had for breakfast.

In our story circles with Homeboy Industries and Homegirl Café, and in Lisa Loomer’s one-on-one interviews, we asked the community members a variety of questions to harvest stories and spark inspiration for CAFÉ VIDA, such as: What was your kitchen like growing up? Who worked in the kitchen? What are your favorite food memories, saddest food memories, your first memory of chile? What did you eat when you were running around with a gang? Do you have food associations with former drug addictions, food in the jail and prison system, and “spread” communities (when convicts prepare and eat their food communally)?

You will see some of these stories on stage. You will see some of these stories brought to life by people that were part of the story circles. You will see courage and honesty, and a community that trusts you the audience to receive its stories with openness and care.

Our journey with the Homeboy and Homegirl community begins and ends with sharing stories. Along the way, we’ve shared food, found commonalities, laughed, cried, marveled, participated in community readings, held auditions and callbacks, endured rehearsals and now… we perform.

Making theater in community enables a diverse group of people to create a transformative experience – often for justice, often to heal the psychic wounds that come from social and economic inequities, bad judgment and family history.

Thank you for being present.

 BUY TICKETS to Café Vida.

Raquel Gutiérrez is Cornerstone’s Manager of Community Partnerships.

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