A Native American Rock Opera "Something Inside is Broken" brings to light the unseen side of history not revealed in American text books.
Auburn, CA , October 5, 2016 (Newswire.com) - It's not about making people feel bad about the past. At least that's what the creator of the play "Something Inside is Broken" Alan Wallace would like you to know. "I didn’t create the project as some big guilt trip. I'm a descendant of these survivors and I want to help share the story. It’s personal, but not in a sense of a grudge or vendetta,” he said. What Alan Wallace is referring to is the fact that his great grandmother was a slave to famous historical icon John Sutter.
She was allegedly kidnapped from her family and forced to become a house servant, as well as serve as a sex slave to John Sutter. When she tried to escape with her beloved, Sutter had her hunted down. Then he cut off the head of her lover and had it spiked outside the fort. Her fate? She was spiked through the nose and chained to a post every night, and was used to service Sutter's sexual needs. John Sutter is a celebrated Sacramento historical icon who's name is plastered on street signs, medical offices, and tourism vistas.
"We use satire a lot in the play. It helps show the absurdity of it all. How women are treated. How they are expected to behave after such treatment. And how they are continually raped by the system when their perpetrators go unpunished. Rather the predators are celebrated, and the victims are forgotten. It happened then. It happens now, and it's sad and sickening. So this rock opera chooses to remember what was done. Our villains and our heroes are cut and dry"
Elle Beyer, Choreographer
Sutter's Fort, down the street from the California State Capitol serves visitors and tourists and there is no mention of any human trafficking or slave trading. In fact, it's out right denied. The problem with that claim is that there are still living descendants of Sutter's slaves, and this history has been a part California Nisenan Native history, for many generations. "It's just not talked about. When we go out and educate kids on the Gold Rush, we dance around the subject. We've never told the truth like this. But the way we're telling it isn't to depress you. We're telling the story through music, dance, and good storytelling" Wallace said. "We just want people to know who we are."
Members of the production team express other motives. "I think it's a way for people to see how resilient these women were. They were survivors of rape, human trafficking, and were subjected to the darkest veils of oppression known to humankind. This is HER-Story and it's a rock opera, and she's going to tell it like it is." says Producer/Choreographer/Cast Member Elle Beyer. It's not a comedy, but the songs and choreography is often spelled out in satirical and lyrical phrases that are coined to cast members as "forks and knives" "walk in her shoes" "stockholm syndrome" and "swastika move".
It's not every day you see a Captain of the US Army sing praises to himself while he steps over the lifeless bodies of slave girls. It's dark, for sure. A wild ride and maybe too much for some people. But every sequence is intended to open up an important dialogue. Sometimes you need to use comedy in order to have those conversations.
Even if the audience isn't sure if they should laugh, cry, or get angry, it's more we need to penetrate the walls we put up around us. Whatever it takes. We are having this conversation, and we're having it now. "We use satire a lot in the play. It helps show the absurdity of it all. How women are treated. How they are expected to behave after such treatment. And how they are continually raped by the system when their perpetrators go unpunished. Rather the predators are celebrated, and the victims are forgotten. It happened then. It happens now, and it's sad and sickening. So this rock opera chooses to remember what was done. Our villains and our heroes are cut and dry," Beyer said.
The project started off as a Nisenan language preservation project. There are 26 songs and arrangements, and over half of them are sung in Nisenan. The Rock Opera bridges genres (rock/hip hop) as well as generations across time, moving through 4 different time periods - The Beginning of the World, A courtroom scene in the late 1800s, The pre-gold rush era (1842), and a reality show called "Frontier Idol".
The Beginning of the World sequence shows simplicity, love, family, community, and abundance, whereas the other time sequences show a significant shift in attitudes, values, and an unstoppable hunger for greed and gold. "Something Inside is Broken" Playwright Jack Kohler of the Hoopa Valley Tribe says, "The rush for gold came at a considerable cost. People died, people were enslaved, and exterminated. Those were our ancestors." An eye single to glory, never seems to turn out so well - at least that's one of the messages of the play. "Greed, an urge we gotta heed, or we wouldn't carelessly take all the things we think we need" from the song "Wretched Little Things", sung by Universal signed leading lady/female rapper J Ross Parelli. The play has attracted an ensemble of talent, professional actors and dancers from all over the US, as well as artist/activists.
The play has been called a "Transformational Experience" a "Ceremony". The show started out as a modest community theater production, but after having such a successful sold out run, it caught the attention, and captured the hearts of some serious sponsors and backers. The show was funded for a West Coast 3 state tour by the Rincon and Tuolumne Tribes. “We have goals of bringing this to the Smithsonian, maybe even Broadway,” Wallace has said.
Dates and locations for the "Something Inside Is Broken" tour:
October 6th 2016 - Grand Sierra Theater - Reno, NV
October 10th & 11th 2016 - Hergerber Theater - Phoenix, AZ
October 14th 2016 - Center for the Arts Escondido, CA
Tickets can be purchased at www.somethinginsideisbroken.com
Source: On Native Ground