Smith, Charles. City of Gold. 30 pp. A- 7-10 The opening scene is a Columbus Day pageant at a generic American school. However, as the students recite their lines, the ghost of the island, Chief Guacanagari, appears, calls the real Columbus, and asks him to help him reenact the famous voyage as it actually occurred. Columbus readily agrees, and the two, with the help of the students, begin to present the true account of the voyage. Searching for the City of Gold, Columbus and his crew land on an island, where they meet Guacanagari and his son Caonabo on the beach. When Columbus and his crew ask about the City of Gold, Guacanagari thinks they are asking for food. Finally, he realizes that the explorers are searching for gold. He and his son draw them a picture of the mountain the gold came from. The explorers think they are telling them to go on to the next island, so Columbus builds an outpost, leaves some men behind to run it, then sets sail with the remainder of his crew and Caonabo, who thinks they are just going to the mountain. When they begin to sail, Caonabo believes they are trying to kidnap him and escapes. The explorers don’t know what they did to frighten Caonabo, so they continue searching. When they find no gold on the second island and realize it must have really come from the first island, they believe Guacanagari had tricked them. They return to his island, only to discover that the men they had left behind had been killed. When they question Guacanagari, they find that their men were killed because they had raped and pillaged throughout the entire island. This play examines how history is formed and makes one question how they understand the past. Columbus is not portrayed as evil, but he is certainly not a hero. The macrocosm of this epic centers in the microcosmic relationship of Columbus and Guacanagari. Misunderstanding, greed, racism, arrogance, and ignorance are all in the forefront of this piece. It is a good play for older students who are able to understand the value of unanswered questions. City of Gold has a cast of five men, but can have transgendered casting. It has no set requirements, but utilized props and costumes. From: Ellis, Roger, ed. International Plays for Young Audiences: Contemporary Works from Leading Playwrights. Meriwether Publishing, 2000. ISBN 1566080657. $16.95. 424 pp. K-12 Reviewed by Lindsay Adamson
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