Atahualpa was the last emperor of the Incas. In his reign he saw the world invaded by what were effectively aliens — Francisco Pizarro and the Spanish conquistadors — and met them as an emperor should, face to face. In 1531 in Cajamarca, Peru, the man who ruled the world met the strange, metal-clad invaders and was captured and eventually killed after nominally accepting the Catholic religion. One world ended that day, but not entirely. Today almost 7 million people in the Andes Mountains still speak Quechua, the language of the Incas, and in that language have been preserved oral tales of the day the last emperor went to meet these other beings and was killed for his troubles. Philip Boehm has translated into English one of these ancient dramas, The Death of Atahualpa. Upstream Theater presents this "rustic pageant" for the first time in English at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday (April 1 through 16), with 7 p.m. performances on Sunday (April 3 and 10) and at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 17, at the Kranzberg Center for the Arts (501 North Grand Avenue; 314-863-4999 or www.upstreamtheater.org). Tickets are $15 to $25.
Fridays-Sundays. Starts: April 1. Continues through April 17, 2011