Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cornerstone Day1

OK, so as usual I have a little catchup here. I'm writing this on day 7 of my internship here in LA with Cornerstone Theater Company. I am participating in their Summer Institute program, which lasts four weeks. I am living and working in Pacoima, which is a northern neighborhood of LA in the San Fernando Valley. Cornerstone is a community-based theater company based in LA that lives with a community for about a year and tries to learn more about that community. A playwright, who is present for all this, then writes a play about the community and community members are invited to be in it along with a few professional actors and a few institute students like me. My job here is assistant stage manager, but I haven't got to do a whole lot with that yet. Anyway, those are the extreme basics, more details to come!

I left Salt Lake City on July 1st and got into LAX in the afternoon. Then, I took the FlyAway bus to Union Station where I was picked up by Cornerstone staff.
I felt like this:
Throughout the day I got to progressively meet more people as we picked them up from various locations. If there is one thing I have experienced so far it's diversity! There are 18 students all together, as well as many staff members, and we are from all over the place. There are people from different countries, people with masters degrees and phds, a grandmother, and several members from the LGBTQ community (one gay man, one lesbian, one butch lesbian, one queer girl, and one transgender girl (now man...). I seriously love them all. These people are amazing and I can't wait to learn all I can from their personal lives as well as how they make theatre. I can definitely say I'm not in Kansas (Provo) anymore. Consider the bubble POPPED! And I'm happy about it. Here are some pics from where I'm living. It's a charter school called Discovery Prep and it sits on the main street of Pacoima behind the First United Methodist Church of Pacoima:

My room is C2, in one of the school's classrooms:
BEFORE:

AFTER:

This is my favorite place to read and relax. The roses and flowers in Pacoima are seriously GORGEOUS and so well taken care of. The irony is that they're usually growing through these huge gates. The image is very beautiful though:


This is the kitchen:

This is where we eat, sometimes called the "before"

This is where we have classes. We call it the "after"

We have a normal school bathroom with toilets and sinks, but as you know most schools don't have showers. So, they had to make showers for us. You warm up your water in a solar bag throughout the day in the sun, and then put it on the wood shelf. The bag has a hose that you wash yourself with. My post for day 2 will contain the saga that was my first shower experience:




This is behind the showers where you have to get up on this ladder to put your shower bag on the shelf:
Essentially, day 1 was exhausting, but so fun. I was just so dang excited to be here!!! We had a meeting in the evening once everyone had arrived, which mostly concerned how day to day business would be conducted. We also had to learn what not to do in Pacoima. Pacoima is known for its gang culture and gang violence. So, we were given the following tips:
1. Do not go outside at night by yourself.
2. You should be fine in the day by yourself.
3. Don't throw gang signs even in jest.
4. Bald men must wear hats.
5. No NY Yankees hats.
6. Dodgers hats are fine. They are universal among all gangs.
7. No hats or shirts with a P on them.

I think those were all the major ones. Clearly, none of those clothing things really apply to me and I don't plan on going out at night alone. Duh. Anyway, that's about all for day one. If I think of anything else I'll add it!

PS--I think I just felt my first earthquake while writing this....whoa.

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