We love working with youth, gardens and food and we've thoroughly enjoyed connecting with the students at LAHSA. We're observing this play transform into a powerful and truly meaningful apart of their lives. Through our weekly interviews with them, we have learned about their motivations and appreciation for theater, their aspirations for college and beyond and how this play has changed how they see food and its place in school and society. We feel blessed to be a part of this amazing Cornerstone production and are excited to see a play reflect so many of the daily experiences of high school students in Los Angeles. We hope you enjoy getting to know these amazing students as much as we have. - Rosa Romero, Lunch Lady Courage scholar
What about this play did you find intriguing that you wanted to try out for it?
The fact that we would get to work with professionals. I really want to study theater after high school, so that lured me in. And last year, Peter Howard came and talked to us in our classes about food and he introduced the play and it was interesting. I never heard of a play about food, so it was interesting to think about.
What do you think about school food?
They definitely try to make it healthier, but its starting to get boring and tasteless. There’s no fun in it. I didn’t eat lunch today because they’re serving this hamburger and I don’t like the meat…I find it nasty and the potatoes were awful too.
There are scenes where everyone has Cheetos and another where students are selling contraband food at a school - do you see that happening at your school?
Yes. I think it’s cool if it’s for an important cause. But if people are doing it for their own benefit, I don’t support it. I’ve supported it before but I don’t do that anymore, because it’s just for you and not for the school or a certain club. School food sales should just be for important things like a club.
Tell me about your character in the play?
Katrina is always being watched by her family. Her mother is very overprotective and she is always stomping down on her brothers so that they can take care of me. Although it’s not in the script, my family and I (in the play) have created this background story where something happened to me in the past and they weren’t there for me so that’s why I choose not to speak; because no one was there to help me when I needed it and my mom feels guilty about it. She’s on my case all the time and my brothers too. Now, I’m in this new environment at this high school. I’ve always been homeschooled and now I’m in this new environment where my brothers are starting to stray away and I want to stray away too, because I’m tired of my mom always wanting to control things. I want to be independent and do my own thing.
Your character is prominent in the play but doesn't have lines. How does it feel to play a silent character?
Challenging, because I’ve never done something like this before. You have to think about your body movement a lot, because I can’t talk. I have to articulate with my body instead of with my voice. I’ve had to stay on stage and be quiet and do movement - it’s been a lot of thinking. It’s hard to get a certain sentence across to another actor on stage. I have to show my emotion through my face and my body movement. It's hard but I think I’m getting there.
Do you identify with your character?
Yes, definitely. Katrina is the youngest, and I'm also the youngest. And I identify with the mother-daughter relationship because my mom doesn’t want to let go of me. College is approaching soon and I’m telling her that ‘I’m going to leave soon’ and it’s really hard for her to let go. That’s exactly how Lunch Lady Courage feels because she doesn’t want to let her baby go. I’m struggling with that at home too and I see the similarities.
What do you like about theater?
Becoming other people! I feel like all these different personalities live inside us and we choose which ones to use. I find it very interesting and entertaining. And I love the response you get from the audience. The few shows I’ve done, after the shows my friend are like ‘ oh my god, that was so… you scared me', or something like that, and I like that. It's good, because that’s what I wanted - to get a reaction from them. I like being onstage. I was always quiet, but I knew I wanted to do something big and I wanted to be in front of a lot of people. When I came here [LAHSA], it all came out. Everyone here takes theater here during their first year - either theater performance or theater design.
Interview by Rosa Romero, Lunch Lady Courage Scholar.
Rosa Romero is the Scholar in Residence for Cornerstone Theater's Lunch Lady Courage. Rosa is an active community organizer for healthy food access and green space around Los Angeles. She is the Farm to Preschool Program Manager at the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute (UEPI) at Occidental College in Los Angeles and was recently awarded the 2012 Recognition award from Michelle Obama's Let's Move Childcare Initiative. She is also a Board member of the South Central Farmers Health and Education Fund and a Certified Master Gardener through the University of California Cooperative Extension and co-founder of Seasonal, Organic Local (SOL) Catering Cooperative. She is a UCLA graduate in the Politics of Urban Education and currently working on her Masters in Early Childhood Education at the University of Hawaii, Manoa.
Click here to see Sandra Luna's Lunch Lady Courage Photo Gallery.
Sandra Luna is an educator, photographer, blogger, school garden advocate and environmentalist living in Los Angeles. She is an immigrant from Guatemala and has grown up in Pico Union/Mid City. Since 2010 she has been teaching seven classes and manages the Horticulture Program at Crenshaw High School in South Central Los Angeles. She is a board member of the South Central Farmers Health and Education Fund and is a certified Master Gardener through the University of California Cooperative Extension. She is a graduate from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona with a degree in Urban and Regional Planning and is currently completing her Masters in Natural Resources and Environmental Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her blog displays her love of photography, gardens, people, environment, community, art, travel, food and the beauty of life in general.