Main Characters

Henry Reyna — main character primarily based on Henry Leyvas, the real-life leader of the 38th Street Gang. He is a Pachuco defending his innocence in the Sleepy Lagoon Murder Trial.

Henry Leyvas, born in 1923 and died in 1971. (Contributing Institution: Dept. of Special Collections/UCLA Library)

Henry Leyvas, born in 1923 and died in 1971. (Contributing Institution: Dept. of Special Collections/UCLA Library)

El Pachuco — incarnates the spirit of pride, defiance and “cool” in Pachuco and Pachuca youth. His character is invisible to everyone but Henry. He performs three major functions: 1) Henry’s alter-ego, 2) master of ceremonies and 3) embodiment of ancient Aztec deity Tezcatlipoca, god of night.

Marco Rodriguez as El Pachuco, Aquarius Theatre, 1979. (Courtesy Mark Taper Forum)

Marco Rodriguez as El Pachuco, Aquarius Theatre, 1979. (Courtesy Mark Taper Forum)

Della Barrios — Henry Reyna’s girlfriend based on Dora Baca, the real-life girlfriend of Henry Leyvas.

Alice Bloomfield — a reporter and activist who speaks out against the unlawfulness of the 38th Street Gang’s conviction. Throughout the play she works to gain an acquittal of the charges. Her character is based on Alice McGrath, a renowned activist leader of Jewish descent and member of the Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee.

George Shearer — a principal lawyer involved in the legal defense of the 38th Street Gang. He is based on George E. Shipley, an attorney of Arab American descent, part of the defense team that represented Henry Leyvas and the 38th Street Gang.

The Press — a character that symbolizes the collusion of the Los Angeles press in the negative depiction of Mexican American youth during the Sleepy Lagoon Murder Trial and the Zoot Suit Riots. This character also portrays the prosecuting attorney who argues for the conviction of the 38th Street Gang.