• Frank X. Rojas

Always Running: Finds a Home at Casa 0101

By Frank Rojas 9/9/19

Cast members return on stage for their final curtain call of the night. Photographed by Frank X. Rojas

“Man it’s been two steps forward, one step back. But you’re on your walk now, you got traction Louie. Keep on your camino.”

Those are the words delivered by Chente Ramirez, portrayed by Joshua Nicholas, to a beaten down Luis Rodriguez, portrayed by Rufino Romero. This all comes after Luis has faced a police brutality attack by a cop on the street. It is delivered halfway into the second act, after the audience has now witnessed the complete transformation of Luis. He has now found a life in activism and art.

The stage adaptation of Luis Rodriguez’s memoir, Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A. has found a six week home at Casa 0101 in the Boyle Heights community.

Always Running tells the autobiography of Luis Rodriguez’s life living in East Los Angeles in the late 1960s as he navigates drug addiction, gang life, and his passion for art. Themes of forgiveness, loyalty, and transformation are present throughout the narrative.

Marco De Leon’s set design transformed Casa 0101 into the East Los Angeles bario where the stories of the Lomas and Sangra gangs takes place. With screen projections and graffiti art walls, the theater housed an intimate performance to a sold out venue.

The entrance to Casa 0101. Photographed by Frank X. Rojas

The production lasted roughly 2 hours, with a 15 minute intermission in between. The story was set to an oldies soundtrack which included songs like “I Only Have Eyes for You” by The Flamingos, “Suavecito” by Malo, and “I’m Your Puppet” by James and Bobby Purify to name a few.

The dialogue spoken on the stage was predominantly a mixture of English and Spanish, a critical identity piece to the story. The stage adaptation stayed very close to the source material from which it was based on.

In a note director Hector Rodriguez, explains why this play is now being presented:

“The simple answer is because it’s time. The issues in the book of gang violence, drug abuse, police brutality and a government that demonizes brown people still remain and in some ways are even worse today. I hope this story of healing and transformation will resonate with people today.”

Luis Rodriguez’s autobiography was first published in 1993 and has since gained critical acclaim. The book has been taught at the middle and high school level for it’s honest telling of social injustice in the midst of the Chicano Rights Movement.

In a dedication note from Luis he writes:

“I dedicate this play to all our Chicano, Mexican, and Central American barrios--and all poor and working-class neighborhoods--as well as the relentless struggle for our youth, our dignity, and peace in our streets.”

Luis Rodriguez’s work continues to captivate readers and audiences alike through the authenticity presented in his narrative. As the Latinx community continues to face social inequality, his work is a reminder of the ongoing struggle yet real transformation that can only come from an authentic place. The work is never finished, but it is only through a community effort that progress can be reached. We are always running.

Always Running is currently playing at Casa 0101 Theater. It will host its final production on Sunday, October 20th. Tickets are selling out fast.

Follow the link to purchase tickets.

© 2019 by Frank Rojas | Email: