From the time she was a toddler Maya was a regular and enthusiastic audience member at our Hudson River Playback Theatre shows where people are invited to tell their personal stories and see them enacted on the spot. Maya always sat in the front row, always spoke up, always with a huge Maya-smile on her face.
When she was seven she and Elise came to a performance for Human Rights Day. It opened with readings from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. After the readings, Maya raised her hand. She was not smiling. “I heard a lot of ‘he’ and ‘him’,” she said. “But no ‘she’ and ‘her’.”
She was absolutely right. Visionary though the Declaration is, its language is completely sexist. And seven-year-old Maya was affronted. She understood the relationship between language and justice. We reflected her comment in action, to her satisfaction.
Jo Salas is a dear, dear family friend. Maya loved attending the shows of Hudson River Playback Theatre. This photo of Jo and Maya was taken at a school presentation during second grade. Jo had supported Maya in a project on Australia in which Maya nailed the Aussie accent.