Everybody has a story to tell, and I love to listen. This past September, I had the privilege of premiering my play “The Long Road Today (El Largo Camino de Hoy)” in downtown Santa Ana, presented as part of South Coast Repertory’s Dialogue/Diálogos project in partnership with Santa Ana-based Latino Health Access. The production involved interviewing and casting more than 100 people from the community, as well as professional artists and crew. Here are three of the people whose deep connections to their city inspired and helped create the play. Scroll below the video for brief bios.
History Born in Mexico, the slightly built, visually impaired woman with brightly dyed reddish hair has lived in Santa Ana since she was 5.
On Santa Ana I remember when I was a little girl going to Delhi Park. But when I got older, I wasn’t a good girl. I was involved in gangs, drugs, and alcohol. I remember trying to destroy the park, trying to set it on fire. It was my park, but I was destructive. Now that my life has shifted, I go back and [understand] what was I doing. And now we need those open spaces. I want to redeem what I did before, to set it better for the people that come behind me, and for the people that are still here.
Crescencio Léon Angel
History Angel came to the U.S. from Jalisco, Mexico, in 1976, looking for work. He picked crops in the Northwest, but eventually moved to Santa Ana and spent the next 33 years working for a company that makes copiers. A musician, he spends weekends singing and playing at paying gigs, church functions, and for people in poor health.
On Santa Ana At times I donate my time. I have been in choruses, church, mariachi, and a trio group. Music is my passion, and I always liked being involved with community. Through singing I help the community.
History A Native American from the Paumatribe, her family has lived in Southern California since before before Europeans arrived. Flores’s great-grandmother, Anastacia Majel, lived in Santa Ana, and in 1936 the Smithsonian recorded her stories about birdsongs, coyotes, and wolves to help preserve her tribe’s vanishing language. Today tribe members meet regularly to learn the language called Acjachemem.
On Santa Ana When I see all these people, they’re my family to me. Santa Ana makes me feel free. When I walk the streets I feel it’s my secret. … I feel like the streets are there with me, the memories, the scents, everything feels full of life in its silence. It’s really amazing. And sometimes I’ll walk up to the Spurgeon [parking structure] and I’ll go up to third floor and just look over and take deep breaths and feel this amazing emotion of knowing, “This is where I’m from. This is who I am,” and it’s beautiful no matter what. And I’m really free.