La Llorona, Weeping Women on Skid Row

Directed by Henriëtte Brouwers

Performances: August 28, 29, 30, 31, 2003
at the Central City Church of the Nazarene.

November 14, 2003
at the Balch Auditorium of Scripps College in Claremont during the conference: “Women & Poverty”.

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Program design by April Shell

The fastest growing segment of the homeless population is women and children. LAPD’s project “La Llorona; Weeping women on Skid Row” addresses the crisis of an exploding population of women and children on Skid Row, and the lack of housing and other services for them in the Skid Row neighborhood.

La Llorona, Weeping Women on Skid Row is based on the Mexican legend of La Llorona (the weeping woman), who wanders the earth in search of her lost / abandoned children.  The legend becomes the through line for relating the personal journeys of the 14 men and women in the cast.  The performance is composed of original movement, text and  song.  This collective creation, La Llorona, offers deeply felt, multiple perspectives and insights into the causes, as well as the personal struggles, of the most rapidly growing segment of the homeless population: women and children.

Performance Excerpt

ImageRoxanna’s Letter to her Son.

“I’ve got to finish this business-contract for my boss. I really need this job. Maybe, if I have time, I can type my son Brandon a letter.”

Dear Brandon, just a few words to let you know that I miss you immensely.
And also to tell you how proud I am of you for going to school, continue your education. And for breaking the family curse as far as the men in our family going to prison and to jails.
I just want to let you know Brandon, that I think we should get some family counseling. That way you can talk to someone about your problems and any hurt that I may have done to you in the past. I want our family to become whole again, and heal the pain that it may have.
By the way, when I get my check on Friday, I’ll bring some money to buy you some school clothes. If you’re not there I’ll leave it with your grandmother.
Love,
Mam.

Project History

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

Cast

LLSR_another day
Performed by Andrea Leichtle, Alexander the poet, April Shell, Chas Jackson, Ibrahim Saba, Phoenix Rupp, Linda Blaisdale, Marion van Schenk, Melina Bielefelt, Rickey Mantley, Roxanna King, Sashae Siatui.
Directed by Henriëtte Brouwers.
Music by Michael Ray Tucker and Hylen Burt.
Lyrics by Alexander the poet.

Funders

“La Llorona, Weeping Women of Skid Row” is partially funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council and the Cultural Affairs Department of the City of Los Angeles.

LAPD thanks SRO Housing, The LA Central City Church of the Nazarene and Scott MacIntosch.