By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
The Skid Row activists are requesting that the city introduce an ordinance that would require a higher percentage of new units be dedicated to the poor. According to the Central City Association, over the next three years 9,000 new housing units will be placed on the market. Less than 350 of them will be available to low-income residents. United Way figures show that more than 84,000 people are homeless each night in L.A. County. There are only 13,632 beds available at shelters.
At the Union Rescue Mission on San Julian Street, looking for Sashae (the play’s lead singer) and blond actress Andrea, who is also a homeless mother — another living “Llorona” — I meet Diane, a woman in a wheelchair who lost a leg to diabetes. She tells me that she lived in all of downtown’s 28-day hotels, until she ran out of money.
Inside the mission are dozens of mothers with children. Many of them work, but they sleep here because they can’t afford a place to rent. Some look physically and mentally impaired and very lonely.
Diane lights a cigarette. Four kids come out from behind us with plastic guns and start spraying each other in the middle of the street. Diane has stayed at the Union Rescue Mission about five times in the last six months. There are dozens of mothers with children, some at the tables located outside, some in front of the check-in window, and some behind the huge dark glass — mothers of all ages and their babies.
“When you live on Skid Row, sometimes dignity is all you’ve got,” says Alexander the Poet in the play. You can see exactly what he’s talking about in the eyes of the people lying down in front of the Midnight Mission on Fourth Street and Wall, a few yards from a refurbished building of expensive lofts.
The lament of La Llorona echoes in the twilight: “Where have my children gone?”
La Llorona: Weeping Women on Skid Row is being staged for one performance on Thursday, November 13, at 7 p.m. at downtown’s Church of the Nazarene (Sixth Street and San Pedro), before traveling to Scripps College in Claremont for a show on Friday, November 14, at 7:30 p.m. For information about the Skid Row performance, call (213) 413-1077; for the Claremont performance, call (909) 607-3541.