One of the things that I love about Teatro Vision is that they truly are a company that wants to give the youth a theatre experience.
Tomorrow marks the first of our two student matinees. The other being on Friday. I have worked with a couple of companies in the area, and this is the only one that I’ve had the privilege of doing this with. I wish more of them did student matinees, or even opened up their final tech rehearsal to a couple of classrooms from neighboring schools. I think it’s really important for this one though. Who better to raise questions in than the younger generation? People who haven’t yet become set in their ways. People who are still in the process of learning.
I find this particular play important because it challenges a lot things and because of these challenges, people have banned the book from school libraries and from teachers’ reading lists. Often times, the people who are all high and mighty about doing this haven’t even read the book. For example in Lafayette, AR, there’s a lady who claims that “Bless Me, Ultima” is one of the 50+ books that she, as the voice of Parents Protecting the Minds of Children, says promote homosexuality and casual sex and wants to have removed from school library shelves. She has readily admitted she has not read all of the books and found many of the excerpts on various Web sites. “I don’t have to read an entire book to decide if the book is pornographic to me,” she said during the organizational meeting of the parents group.
Now call me crazy, but I wonder if she realizes that she may have read something that was edited to sound objectionable. As someone who has recently read this book, I think it’s utterly ridiculous to say that there is anything pornographic in nature written within it’s pages. There is mention of a place that is a brothel, but Rudolfo Anaya didn’t go into any detail about the deeds that happen there.
In 2005, a Colorado superintendent, based on a single complaint took the school’s copies and allowed the complainees to take them home and toss them in the trash. The reason for the complaint: It had profane language in the book. The class that was supposed to read it were 9th Graders, and I am pretty damn sure that they have said those same words on the school yard. The only difference is the words on the pager are in spanish.
Not only has the book been banned for language and supposed sexual situations, but also because it talks about the old traditional ways of the Native people of America. The right wingers take issue that the book doesn’t simply erase the part of the family where traditional Native practices are just as important and walking into a building and bowing down to two planks of wood attached together. Why shouldn’t people know that there were people in the 1940’s and 50’s that still practiced a religion that is older than Christianity and Catholicism? After all, those religions stole what it could make useful and demonized that which it couldn’t from the Pagans and other polytheistic cultures like the Greeks. I mean why does the incarnation of God look exactly like Zeus? But that’s not what this post is about.
The topic is that Teatro Vision tries very hard to give to the community. The first Sunday of every production is a free performance so those that can’t afford tickets to a show can share this experience. It actively invites students to come to the dress rehearsals by offering super steep discounts. And of course the student matinees. The student matinees are always awesome because when I was in school the only way I ever got to see plays were on field trips to the San Jose Center of Performing Arts. Those trips are part of why I have this intense love of theatre. I hope that somehow there’s someone in the audience tomorrow or Friday morning that has that same feeling.