Cornerstone Theater Company

Past Work

Over six years, we presented nine world premiere plays that explored our relationship to the most elemental of needs – hunger. We looked at food equity, urban and rural farming, food addiction, community gardens, and many others issues.

Café Vida
Written By Michael John Garcés
Directed by Lisa Loomer
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.

SEED, A Weird Act of Faith
Written By Sigrid Glimer
Directed by Shishir Kurup
A fantastical tale that travels between an urban farm, a rural haven, and the contested space of agribusiness. Inspired by the community of South Los Angeles and those fighting for sustainable and healthful food choices, SEED follows a neighborhood struggling to grow greens amid concrete. The only hitch? The gods have deemed humanity bound for destruction, and our survival depends on the success of one urban farm. SEED takes you on a journey where you’ll dig deep into the dirt and ask, “What are we putting in, and what are we getting out?”

Lunch Lady Courage
Written By Peter Howard
Directed by Chris Anthony
A collaboration with Los Angeles High School of the Arts, 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. 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?

Love on San Pedro
Written By James McManus
Directed by Shishir Kurup
Time moves differently in Skid Row, Los Angeles, where artists rub shoulders with lawyers, pastors, social workers and b-ball players. From the benches of San Julian Park to the walls of an intimate apartment and a raucous karaoke hall, Love On San Pedro, Cornerstone’s fourth play in The Hunger Cycle, weaves an unlikely love story. Shunned by her community, Marjorie’s weariness drags time to a near standstill. But when she’s wooed by a man whose hope and hoop-shots know no bounds, her world speeds up fast. Meet Skid Row’s intricate and vibrant community, a mere one square mile of downtown streets where the moon shines brightest in the darkest corners.

Bliss Point
Written By Shishir Kurup
Directed by Juliette Carrillo
A community of Angelenos grapples with a seemingly uncontrollable whirlwind of substance abuse — and an aftermath of loss, hope and reconciliation. Inspired by Cornerstone’s collaboration with addiction & recovery communities in Los Angeles, Bliss Point takes us into the sometimes frightening realm of the hunger of addiction, where the need for emotional fulfillment—love, respect, connection, spirituality – is “fed” through substance abuse. Our culture’s complicated relationship with drugs is unmasked in Bliss Point, an emotionally gripping exploration of how we use substances to either manage or escape our realities.

California: The Tempest
Written By Alison Carey
Directed by Michael John Garcés
From 2004 through 2013 Cornerstone created plays across California through our Institute Summer Residency program. We spent a month each summer living and working with diverse California communities, and brought along other artists, activists and educators from all over the country to collaborate and make community-engaged theater.

Cornerstone celebrated a decade of Summer Residencies with the production, California: The Tempest, uniting these 10 California communities onstage and touring to each location. An epic, year-long, ten-city, decade-in-the making, once-in-a-lifetime, world premiere theatrical road-trip across the greatest state in the nation! Journey with us from the downtown Los Angeles Arts District to Arvin, Lost Hills, Grayson & Westley, Pacoima, East Salinas, Fowler, Holtville, Eureka, San Francisco and then back to Downtown L.A. where it all began as each of these ten communities contributes to writing the play they inspire.

In California: The Tempest, “What’s past is prologue,” an adaptation of The Tempest meets the challenges of the Golden State head-on in this traveling experience that conjures love, disaster, revenge, forgiveness & music (all that you would expect from Shakespeare!); mixed with earthquakes, drought, overdevelopment, food equity, state politics, fracking and immigration policy (all that you would expect from California!) as Prosper, Minerva, Caliban and Californians from across the state yearn to find the commonality in our diversity and imagine a healthy and inclusive future for California!

Urban Rez
Written By Larissa FastHorse
Directed by Michael John Garcés
Urban Rez becomes a hotbed of chaos when guests are presented with an opportunity that could change everything — federal recognition. This potentially lucrative offer threatens to upend familial bonds and relationships as community members are confronted with the insidious and absurd task of figuring out who’s out and who’s in. How far is the tribe’s self-appointed leader willing to go to beat the system, stay out of jail, and protect what is sacred? You may not find fry bread at Urban Rezbut you will find a thought-provoking immersive theater experience that’s sure to feed your curiosity.

Fellowship, a play for volunteers
Written By Julie Marie Myatt
Directed by Peter Howard
Five souls find fellowship in giving their time to a weekly volunteer shift, making sandwiches for a local food bank. They work hard, sing, laugh, and share stories of what brought them to this service. This weekly time together is their church and sanctuary until the day a stranger enters. What happens when Hunger comes to visit? fellowship, the eighth play in Cornerstone’s Hunger Cycle, is an immersive experience that put our audience members in the role of volunteer where they helped to prepare and assemble sack lunches to be distributed to hungry people in Los Angeles.

Magic Fruit
Written By Michael John Garcés
Directed by Shishir Kurup
Magic Fruit is the culminating “bridge” show of the Hunger Cycle, a series of nine world premiere plays exploring hunger, justice, and food equity issues.

In Magic Fruit Tami, an ex-gang member, sets out on a journey through an apocalyptic Los Angeles. Despite the many challenges Tami faces, including hunger, addiction, financial insecurity and a system she doesn’t really understand, she finds unexpected allies in strange places as she aims to reunite her family, find a home, and just maybe save the world.

Set in an alternate reality of mega droughts, methane leaks and temperatures, sea levels and property values that just keep rising, Magic Fruit is a cautionary tale about a future that could never, ever happen, because that would be insane. And we’re not insane…are we?