BOYLE HEIGHTS, Calif. (KABC) -- In his 1993 award-winning book "Always Running", Luis J. Rodriguez chronicles his days in L.A. gangs in the 60s and 70s. The Los Angeles Poet Laureate has now co-adapted his memoir for the stage.
"It's the story of what happened to me having joined a gang, into heavy drugs, in and out of jails, not going to school. How did I change my life. What happened that pulled me out of that abyss that I was in," said Luis J. Rodriguez.
"He was living at a time when the Chicano Movement was going on, when there was a lot of tension politically and racially. So he lived in a very interesting time," said Rufino Romero who stars as the young Luis in the production. "Gangs started coming out, or clubs as they were known back then. In his life, there were a lot of things that were escalating very quickly. Luckily, he wrote 'Always Running' and he's touched a lot of people's lives."
"I wrote the book because my son was in a gang. I wrote it for kids thinking about joining a gang. It came out right after the L.A. uprising," said Rodriguez. "So now everybody wanted to know about L.A. gangs."
"The media was interested. I got on the Oprah Winfrey Show. I was on Good Morning America and newspapers," added Rodriguez. "So it just hit at the right time. It was not planned."
Theater director Hector Rodriguez co-adapted the book for the stage.
"The book covers almost 20 years of his life and many characters, and people, and situations," said the director. "It's pressure because you wanna get it right. He's a living person and he's still in the community. But it's also a blessing because he was there, and so he helps us keep it authentic."
"The biggest challenge was to find the heart of the story, which I think is healing. But we do touch on gentrification. We touch on drug addiction and mentorship," said Hector Rodriguez. "A lot of people share that journey, that life, even if they don't live on the Eastside. They can still relate to it."
The production is a collaboration between Tía Chucha's Centro Cultural & Bookstore in Sylmar and CASA 0101 Theater. The play will be presented for a six-week run until October 20, 2019.
Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., Sundays at 5:00 p.m.
Special Saturday Matinees: September 7, 14 and 21, 2019 at 3:00 p.m.
*No Performances on September 27, 28 and 29, 2019
CASA 0101 Theater, 2102 East First Street (at St. Louis Street), Boyle Heights, CA 90033
Award-winning book on L.A. gang life revived as stage play