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How to Put on Public Readings of Guantanamo Diary

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Mohamedou Ould Slahi has given the world his perspective of what is happening in Guantánamo Bay Prison, where he continues to be held.  Now that we have his first-hand account, we can share it with our community as a tool to build support for ending this center for torture and indefinite detention.  Here are some suggestions for putting on a reading:

1. Get a location and choose a time. This reading can be on any scale:

  • Living room with friends
  • Community center, library, church hall
  • Local cafe
  • Steps of city hall or town hall
  • Theater (Mondays are often “dark night”)
  • Auditorium or gymnasium…

2. Pick a charity to benefit. Donations can fund a local group involved in this issue, the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is leading a team of 400 attorneys around the country representing detainees at Guantánamo and fighting the rendition, detention and torture policies of the U.S. government, No More Guantánamos and Witness Against Torture, which lead national grassroots campaigns to close the prison, or another charity of your choice.

3. Download a script. Choose from the scripts on this website or draft your own from the book.

4. Cast the roles. Cast your friends. Cast local celebrities or elected officials. Cast people who would love the opportunity. Or maybe a national celebrity grew up in your home town -- invite them back to read a role. Or have them send a letter to be read at the event. A director can help make the public reading go smoothly, if one is available and you have time for a rehearsal or two.

5. Get help! In addition to your cast, send an email around asking for volunteers to help you. Keep an email address book of everyone who writes you with interest. You'll be surprised by how many people want to do something, and have been feeling powerless and frustrated about the U.S. government’s wrongful detentions and torture at Guantánamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere. Staging a Guantánamo Diary reading is a great way to form new relationships and work together for the common good. Remember to be inclusive: Find a way for everyone who offers to get involved.

6. Make the Project Visible. Send out press releases, post fliers, do radio interviews, wear sandwich boards... Get creative with your cast, friends, and volunteers to promote this benefit event so that your voice is heard. What will make the press show up? Even if your publicity efforts are minimal or non-existent, your participation in this event is vital to the project. We will include your reading in our press releases no matter how small.

7. Send us the details of your production so we can include it in our press releases. Before your reading, we would like to know your city, state, country, reading location & time, your name, and a contact number and email address. If it is a private reading, then let us know and don’t include the location and time.

8. Include discussion and action. Set up a table with literature and action materials. End the evening with a discussion or invite the audience’s questions. Thank you for making a difference!

Always feel free to call us with any questions. We will provide what resources we can to assist you in your efforts. Let us know what else we can do to help you get your reading off the ground.

Also, make sure you follow all local ordinances and laws when organizing and holding your reading.