Review: Unnatural Spaces by Coya Paz

Whether or not you consider yourself green or are a vegan, you should go see “Unnatural Spaces.” a play about environmental justice in Chicago.

At the end of it I left wanting to run straight to Whole Foods for some organic food then run home and sort my trash. I also left with a little more awareness and consciousness to the presently decaying surroundings we call our world.

The set was curiously decked out with recycled items such as boxes of processed foods and a curtain made of tied shopping bags. Along a center stage window, panels decorated with bottle tops and plastic containers of various sizes and colors. At first look, your inner tree hugger wonders where all your trash winds up. If your imagination is vivid and fast-paced, you think like I did and immediately reflect back to all the documentaries you’ve seen that highlight the important issues of environment and health.

I thought about Forks Over Knives, a documentary focusing on research of processed foods and the link to the epidemic of illnesses. Food Matters is another documentary I saw about obesity and its link to the foods we eat, and my favorite Tapped, a documentary about the bottled water industry sheds insightful light on the subject matter. The information is out there and accessible. You won’t see these messages portrayed in a commercial during the Super Bowl. You won’t see billboards explaining the number-system on the stickers glued to the fruit you buy.  You won’t see classes in school curriculums educating our youth about environmental responsibilities.

But if you give a rat’s ass you seek out information, educate yourself and educate your children.  Thereafter, do as I have done and start with small changes.

I am no hypocrite.  I smoke Marlboros and I love my occasional Big Mac and enjoy the gadgets of the now. I enjoy my iPhone, iPod, my laptop and flat screens, but I care enough NOW to make my own makeup remover with coconut oil, distilled water, and baby wash.  I care enough to take my Ikea bags with me when I do groceries.  I care enough to cook more at home versus eating fast food.  I have even waited an extra two (agonizing) weeks to cover my grey. In the past I could not keep a cactus alive. I am now the proud owner of 12 living plants that are growing and thriving thanks to my caring hands and a little help from you tube.

It took hundreds of years for us to screw up the environment. Little small changes to how we live, eat and consume can help make it a little better, I think!

The message in the play was clear and the actors highlight how our urban lifestyle renders us a million and one excuses not to eat better, feed our kids better or to better care for our environment. The dejected choices we make will undoubtedly form our future. I got it!

The most memorable moment for me was the skit of Giovanni Gonzalez.  In his fast-paced script while he swept as part of (as the scene called) court-ordered community service, he describes all of the issues that surround him and his family and his current economic hardships. With all that drama, who has time for veggies, right?

However, notwithstanding how busy, miserable and desperate states we may find ourselves in, there is no excuse. We need to make better choices for our environment and our own health. It’s true…

One of the most identifying pieces for me was the one of Denise Ruiz, Puerto Rican from Humboldt Park. “Give up my Cafe Con Leche and my 4 spoons of sugar because I have diabetes?”  I take 4 spoons of sugar in my coffee (all 3 per day.)  It made me think, what if I wind up with diabetes?  This morning I only took 2 spoons of sugar.  That’s a 50% reduction!  You see; baby-steps.  Now, can we make grey hair sexy?

Unnatural Spaces is commensurate with the mission of Guild Literary Complex, a community based organization that’s been around for 23 years who reach many through innovative and educational programs.

Unnatural Spaces is entertaining, educational, and funny. Most importantly, it strikes a nerve with a positive message. No! Better yet: “A wake-up call!”  I would love to see this act circulate Chicago’s underprivileged schools.  Education is half the battle. I loved it.

Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays – October 5-28, 2012 Purchase Tickets »
Hairpin Arts Center 2800 N. Milwaukee Ave., 2nd Floor – Chicago, IL

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