Cafe Vida isn’t a real place; it’s based on Homegirl Cafe in downtown Los Angeles, where former gang members go to get a new start on life. Acclaimed playwright Lisa Loomer interviewed dozens of people in and around the Homegirl community to write this work. It opens this weekend at the Los Angeles Theater Center.
On a recent Saturday while actors rehearsed at Cornerstone Theater Company‘s warehouse in the Arts District downtown, Loomer discussed gangs, the breakdown of the family, and how these complex topics are related to food. Cafe Vida is the first in a cycle of nine plays by Cornerstone that will address the issue of hunger.
“I think we live in a broken country,” she said. “In my thinking, it connected for me when people come here from Mexico, where there’s real food, where you can go to the market every day,” said Loomer, “and suddenly your mother’s working two to three jobs and you’re eating at McDonald’s. The break in connection from your family — the break from real food to fast food to junk food, these are the ways I’ve connected Homegirl, where people rehabilitate their relationship to food and their relationship to society.”
Cafe Vida opens May 5th.