STOP THE KILLING
STOP THE KILLING
In the last week of August and the first week of September 2008, there were six killings in the Mission neighborhood, along the 24th St. corridor, within a 10 minute walk of both my home and our rehearsal space. Four of the victims were under 25, the age cohort of the Delinquent cast. Two other young adults were killed in the Fillmore during the same period. In the following couple of weeks there were at least two more murders in the Mission. Two people in the cast, Omar and Nestor, were friends with some of the victims. Omar missed a rehearsal to go to a funeral and Nestor missed a rehearsal to organize a protest at City Hall to draw attention to the killings. With a neighborhood gang member in the cast and four non-white teenagers from outside the immediate neighborhood I was sensitive to the grief and the danger of their daily life, including getting to and from rehearsal. Omar would look out the windows for cops before leaving rehearsals. Others would get me or someone else to walk them to BART or to wait on a side street (away from the action of 24th St.) for a parent to pick them up.
The wave of violence, just as we were getting to know each other, introduced a gravity and a focus to our meetings. Simultaneously, the brutality of revenge and the randomness of mistaken identities involved in the killings touched me deeply and provoked me to consider a direct dealing with death in the performance. Making a link, especially with government/media manipulation of revenge feelings, to US foreign policy in Iraq and the War on Terror, seemed almost too easy, like an escape from the a more present danger. Soon after I found a hoodie with a skeleton design at a shop on Mission St. As we moved towards dia de los muertos, the hoodie became a death character that started to hang around the piece.
I made a sign naming the six victims and the location of their deaths and posted it along 24th St.