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ACTING FOR INDIGENOUS RIGHTS - Theatre to Change the World

ACTING FOR INDIGENOUS RIGHTS - Theatre to Change the World

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Date Added: Thursday 28 March, 2013

by Amanda Patarra

I’m a High-School student in Berkeley, California, and last week on March 21, 2013, I attended the reading of ACTING FOR INDIGENOUS RIGHTS. THEATRE TO CHANGE THE WORLD at University Press Books. UPB is a gorgeous bookstore and I love to go there because it’s just around the corner and they have amazing books and magazines, sparkling bookcases, cozy nooks and a very cool café next door. But I didn’t expect to be involved in a dramatic reading of this book, as I just wanted to sit and listen to the author tell me about how theatre can change the world. Don’t we need something just like that today, when it seems like the world is going to hell?

I love theatre. I took several classes at the Berkeley Repertory School of Theatre here in Berkeley, in Middle School, and performed in many plays. That’s why I was so interested in this book. When I got to UPB last Thursday the reading had already started, and I realized there was something different going on. Because I’m familiar with theatre, I thought: this is Invisible Theatre, a staged performance in which the audience wonders what’s really going on!! The author, Mariana Ferreira, was reading really intense passages and then an audience member said “I helped create the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007 when I was on death for 20 years.”

How could that be? Someone in the audience had really been on death row for that long? And others after him, like a Yurok fisherwoman who talked openly about recent Salmon wars, in Northern California. “What do you mean,” a tribal Yurok member asked, “if we still have a hard time fishing on our own Klamath river today because of all the dams and the pollution floating around?” And so it went, without a moment of respite. I started to sweat profusely, not knowing what was coming next. Then suddenly the unexpected happened: Mariana talked about some very young children in the Brazilian Northeast whose families choose to “let them go” to heaven because the family can no longer afford to raise them. An audience person asked for milk right away, but they only gave him water. No milk, like in the impoverished Brazilian Northeast. No steak, either. You’ll have to read the book to really understand what I’m talking about.

Amanda Patarra, Berkeley, California. March 2013.

Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]

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