It’s all about the hoops. Not the fantastical sport that made Kobe and Shaq into gods, but, the circular-never-out-of -style-must-have-item. I wore the basketball size in the 9th grade and knew I looked cute. You couldn’t tell me any differently. In those earrings, I was sporty, posh and sometimes even scary. In the 80s, it was all about sporting the bamboo earrings, or door knockers as LL Cool J referred to them in the 1990 song “Around the Way Girl”. At last, a connoisseur of the hoop earring wrote a loving tribute to the much needed accessory. Gabriela LÛpez, who also starred in the Casa 0101 production Real Women Haves Curves and wrote and performed in The Pursuit Of and Apparition of the Virgin Mary, wrote a wonderful play about the admirers and wearers of the hoop earring. Part fairytale, drama and comedy, Hoop Girls, brings together female unity by the simply admiration of the old-favorite hoop earring. In this case, not only is size important but it details a girl’s growing up.
Julie Evans plays the soul everlasting. A sassy, young spirit dressed in a form fitting, sophisticated white dress who doubles as narrator and conscience. She oversees the antics of 6 friends: Monique (Ramona Pilar Gonzales) Amy (Karla Menjivar) Mercedes/Farrah (Esperanza America Ibarra) Sophia/Liberty (Christina Torres) Georgina/Leti (Jesse Bliss) and Piper/Esther (Miriam Moses). With a huge hoop in the middle of the stage, captivating vignettes begin. According to the Soul, there are four stages of the hoop earring:
4-inch hoop: the teen hoop which gets caught in anything and gives of a look at me sensation;
2-inch hoop affectionately known as the training wheel;
2½-inch hoop known as the household hoop and the
3-inch: debutante and also symbol for the veteranas.
Liberty (Torres) is highly upset that she received small hoops from her aunt. She highly anticipated a bigger size that would compliment her sassy personality. She is teased by their smallness and is on a mission to jump to a 12-inch and more daringly a 13-inch hoop. Moses plays Esther a sweet grandmother type who advises the rebellious Mercedes (Ibarra) to give her mother a break. Mercedes’ mother discourages her daughter to stop dreaming about becoming a professional dancer and get focus on marriage and children. This is the nightmare the modern Latina faces when battling the old regime. Sweet Esther wrapped with her red knitted shawl, thick glasses and kerchief on her head, recalls giving up on her daughter and laying the same advice. The two generations come to an agreement and learn from one another.
Georgina (Bliss) tells it like it is when she preaches to the women, similar to a war council, about her philandering man when she discovers a pair of cheap ass hoops, in his car. She tells her story looking absolutely fabulous in a cute top, sexy looking mini skirt and great looking platform heels with studs. Her personal Greek chorus give their obligatory “oohs,” “aahs,” and “oh, no he didn’t” agreeing with their pissed-off girlfriend.
As Leti, Bliss goes from fierce sister woman to befuddled girl trying to find a basketball class at the Y. Instead, she encounters, Piper (Moses) and the others at a Hoop Girls in Training session. Monique (Gonzales) is another chica who is street smart and tells the truth. Monique is the girl who comes up with ideas that can get you into trouble but the good and memorable kind. As the group chants the fiery mantra, GO! FIGHT! WIN! lead by Piper (Moses), Leti recalls her momma and her hoops; the fights and arguments. Piper consoles the sorrowful young woman by saying that she’s a “kick ass hoop girl” and she must “find your power within.” Basketball class ain’t gonna make that happen. As the leader of the aerobic class Miriam berates each woman standing in a line of shame, so they can come back with a clever line of attack. They have to speak up for themselves.
The women devise their personal poignant moments that are both serious and fun. Monique and Amy going through a bad break-up; Amy wishes she could be confident like Monique. Sofia and Mercedes are 8th graders appalled of the new dress code that prohibits wearing their precious hoops. The duo busts a rap and dance in protest of the code. The most touching and heartfelt is Sofia’s monologue about being safe in her room and free to do whatever she wants without being judged. Farrah wears a stylish 70s pink dress with a white daisy print, rocks her Farrah Fawcett hair and wearing silver hoops as an ode to her mother. She talks about her mother’s picture holding a baby but the attention is on the mother and her hoops. The baby is secondary. Under Dominguez’s careful direction, he beautifully executes LÛpez’s vision of strong-willed, vulnerable chicas who maintain belief in themselves while simultaneously reinforcing those beliefs unto others. As the Soul watches the young women spring into action, she’s happy at their epiphanies of what it takes to be a strong woman, a Hoop Girl is a precious and valuable thing. The entire cast works well together and does what they can to make the other person, as well as themselves, shine. LÛpez’s is from a new breed of upcoming playwrights whose writing is sharp and focused. It won’t be long until she pens a great movie, if she hasn’t all ready, like Josefina Lopez, no relation, whose play Real Women Have Real Curves jumped to the screen with favorable reviews in the 2002 movie, starring future Ugly Betty star America Ferrera.
CASA 0101 is located at, 2009 E. First Street, Los Angeles, CA in Boyle Heights or online www.casa0101.org.
For more information log on to www.myspace.com/casa_0101, www.myspace.com/hoop_girls or www.myspace.com/casa_0101 Written by Gabriela LÛpez. Directed by Corky Dominguez. Produced by Gabriela Lopez and Edward Padilla.