Skid Row is a socially contrived neighborhood where social services for single men have traditionally been concentrated. No services for women have been in place on Skid Row, because service providers felt that it was so nasty a place that women should not be encouraged, through the availability of services, to stay there. However, in the last two years the population of women and children in the area has exploded. This explosion coincides with the arrival of the 5 year lifetime limit for Aid for Dependent Children — cynically known as “welfare reform”. As the area has been flooded with women and children the few services available to women and children have been overwhelmed. The Downtown Women’s Action Coalition (DWAC) was formed in 2002, to advocate for the creation of services for women and children in the area.
LAPD associate director Henriëtte Brouwers and 14 LAPD company members developed “La Llorona; Weeping Women on Skid Row”, a show with and by the women of Skid Row, to address these issues. The show was developed in dialogue with, and with facilities support, from Skid Row women’s advocacy (Downtown Women’s Action Coalition) and service providers: Central City Outreach, Church of the Nazarene and SRO Housing Corporation.
SRO Housing Corporation, which has done so much to generate a stock of affordable, decent housing on Skid Row, hosted our rehearsals at the new Jim Woods Community Center. Central City Outreach / Church of the Nazarene is known for it’s spirited sense of providing for the spirit of people living in Skid Row; it runs a wonderful after school play and study program and packs the house on Wednesday evenings for community karaoke night. “La Llorona; Weeping Women on Skid Row” was performed 3 times at the Church of the Nazarene (a former sewing factory loft). Pre-event-articles in the LA Times and the LA Weekly generated large enthusiastic audiences of neighborhood residents and people from other parts of Los Angeles. A fourth performance took place at Scripps College, in Claremont, as part of a national conference on women and poverty.
Click here to download the Los Angeles Times article: Los Angeles Times 2003 – His spotlight illuminates lives of the homeless – la Llorona