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Chalice Unitarian Universalist Community Forum will present “Voices of a People’s History of the United States,” a theatrical piece featuring the spoken words and writings of activists and dissidents who opposed injustices, wars and suppression but whose voices are largely absent from history books.
The drama by Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove based on Zinn’s best-selling book will be presented Oct. 11 and 12 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 13 at 3 p.m. at Chalice, 3327 Old Conejo Road in Newbury Park. Chalice member Randall Edwards, director of the production, says Zinn wanted the voices of struggle to be given the place in history that they deserve. Zinn wrote in the 10th anniversary third edition of the dramatic work in 2014 that he wanted “readers to experience how at key moments in our history some of the bravest and most effective political acts were the sounds of the human voice itself.”
Among the voices to be heard are former slave turned abolitionist Sojourner Truth, suffragist Susan B. Anthony, Nez Perce tribe leader Chief Joseph, labor organizer Emma Goldman, once-interned Japanese-American activist Yuri Kochiyama, Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and 16-year-old climate change activist Greta Thunberg.
The Chalice production of “Voices” is unique, Edwards said. “We were able to select pieces from the over 200 speeches and writings in the book and even some given since its publication. These speeches were not only very powerful influences in their time, but resonate strongly in today’s political climate. Our hope is that the audience will come away feeling inspired and empowered,” Edwards said.
The diverse cast is about half Chalice members and non-members, some coming from the San Fernando Valley and as far away as San Diego, Edwards said.
Several cast members shared how much working on the project means to them. Edward Elliot Durant III, who portrays Martin Luther King Jr. and Henry McNeal Turner, an 1860s African-American Georgia legislator who challenged attempts to disenfranchise blacks and lawmakers, said the piece is very special to him because his African-American great-grandfather was one of the founding members of the Freedmen’s Bureau in the waning months of the Civil War. The agency, established by Congress, helped former slaves and impoverished whites with food, housing, medical aid and education from 1865-72.
Suggested donation for the performances is $20 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. Tickets can be ordered at chaliceuu.yapsody.com. For information, contact Randall Edwards through the church office at (805) 498-9548 or visit chaliceuu.org/justice/community-forum.