Law and Order: Ex-Convicts Tell Their Stories on Stage

By Bent, Eliza | American Theatre, May-June 2009 | Go to article overview

Law and Order: Ex-Convicts Tell Their Stories on Stage


Bent, Eliza, American Theatre


JIDDU KRISHNAMURTI, THE INDIAN PHILOSOPHER, said, "It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." Prison has been said to be a reflection of society's failures. If that's the case, America isn't doing so well. The United States leads the world in prison populations, with 2.3 million people incarcerated. There is a disproportionate percentage of people of color in prison. Black men make up the highest percentage (35.4 percent) even though they make up less than 10 percent of the U.S. population. And then there's the economic side of the story. Michigan spends nearly $2 billion on its corrections system. Gov. Jennifer Granholm told the Detroit News, "We spend more money on prisons than we do on higher education, and that has got to change."

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

How can theatre possibly attempt to address the awful truths of crime and punishment? Enter The Castle, a play conceived and directed by former theatrical press agent David Rothenberg. The play's regal title refers to the New York City residential facility run by the Fortune Society that helps former inmates adjust to life after prison. In this drama verite, four real-life ex-convicts share their tales of privation, crime, imprisonment and redemption.

"We're trying to put a face on a population of people. The issues are implicit," Rothenberg says over the phone. "I've been involved with this since the inception. I would go to these community meetings every Thursday night at the Fortune Society and got to know some of the residents." (Residents of the Castle use Fortune Society classrooms for sessions devoted to career development and counseling.) "As I got to know them I would arrange for them to see plays. Over time, I learned their stories. So one day I joked, 'You're more interesting than the plays we're seeing!'"

The stories Rothenberg heard are indeed remarkable. For example, Casimiro Torres was once a homeless teen sleeping in Manhattan's old Dollar Movie Theatre. That same location in Midtown Manhattan is now New World Stages--where The Castle plays. "Is that not a story?!" Rothenberg exclaims. Angel Ramos entered prison Illiterate, but in his 30 years of incarceration he not only learned to read and write but also developed a passion for Quaker life. His one-year anniversary away from prison also marked his Off-Broadway debut.

"In the year we've been performing, I have watched the four performers be almost transformed by their confidence and pride in participating in such an important and unusual adventure," producer Eric Krebs says. "When they perform, and especially when they speak in the talkbacks that follow each show, they are magnificently poised teacher/professionals." During talkbacks, information about the Fortune Society is distributed to the audience, which has resulted in some generous gifts to the not-for-profit. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Law and Order: Ex-Convicts Tell Their Stories on Stage
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.