people say “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it,” it’s meant
to be a bad thing. Note the word “doomed.” But for those involved in the
upcoming stage production A People’s History of Colorado, that might not
be the case.
improvised, cast-directed play by the Romero Troupe depicts lesser-known
historical events in the state that highlight issues of power, privilege and
race and class conflict. It shows at 7 p.m. Oct. 21 at the Boulder
Unity Church, 2855 Folsom St., as a benefit for Rocky Mountain Peace and
Troupe includes about 30 performers who collaborate and decide on scenes to
comprise the play, but they aren’t scripted. The actors are all amateurs,
founder and actor Jim Walsh says.
the point of the play, Walsh says, is to use the history to inspire people
“The way people view
the present is deeply rooted in the way they view the past,” he says. “If we shake
up the way they see the past it can really shift how they see the present.”
For Walsh, who
founded the troupe after realizing that performing plays about history was
helping his university students learn, the actors can serve as models for the
audience in a way.
“When they come to
our shows what they’re seeing are 30 people who use theater as a way to find
their voice,” Walsh says. “We’d like to think that’s inspiring people to go out
and find their voice. Our shows are about that: to feel empowered in one’s own
performance will benefit the RMPJC, a Boulder-based non-profit focused on
creating a culture of peace. Betty Ball, the center’s co-administrator, says
teaming with the Romero Troupe has been successful for RMPJC in the past
because plays can bring excitement to history.
“It’s just really
amazing and exciting to get in touch with these events that are really
important, but that get very little media play,” she says. And the RMPJC’s
goals fall in line with the Romero Troupe’s, she says.
“It fits with our
mission to look at these periods of injustice and the people who were trying to
rectify it, and gain inspiration from that to fight against injustice today,”
Ball says. “We’re never going to have peace until there’s justice.”
also says the Romero Troupe isn’t just about history. There are lots of valid
lessons for today’s social conflicts, like the Occupy Wall Street movement.
very excited that people everywhere are uniting under this banner that we have
to get rid of corporate control,” she says.
agrees that the play’s message applies to the protests.
“This particular show is all about social
movements — movements for justice, for workers’ rights, for peace — and they
all tell a story of a long history of people in this state who weren’t afraid
to get out on the streets and create change and find solidarity, which is
exactly what the occupy movements all about,” he says. “The play makes people
see the movement as part of a larger arc of struggle.”
an opportunity for the 99 percent of the people to unite and take back their
power,” Ball says. “When people take their power, change happens.”
Walsh says those who aren’t on the same side of the political aisle don’t need
to stay away. “Even though our
shows are political, I think our message is very positive. It’s not by nature
an offensive message. We tend to celebrate people who have courage, and that
appeals to anyone.”