Thursday, September 15, 2005

a play about prisoners, for prisoners

Interplayers' production of Someone Who'll Watch Over Me, a 1992 drama based on the real-life experiences of Britons taken hostage by terrorists in Beirut in the early 1980s, was performed at Turner House, a federal facility in Spokane, on Sept. 13. Later this month, director Nike Imoru will lead post-performance discussions at the Kootenai County Juvenile Facility and (possibly, at a later date) at the Geiger Correctional Facility in Airway Heights.

One distinction, of course, has to do with innocence and guilt. The Brits were kidnapped and held for four and a half years in squalid conditions by terrorists. Presumably, the people held in the local jails were given due process and really are guilty of the crimes they were convicted for -- and they get three squares a day. Still, dealing with boredom, wondering about God, forging relationships with other prisoners, missing the simple routines of everyday life -- not to mention loved ones -- there are some commonalities.

Outreach programs like this one enrich inmates' lives and sharpen actors' perceptions (in this case, of what it's like to be locked up for long periods of time). As a theater community, I think we ought to devise and carry out as many outreach programs as we have energy for. If theater attendance is a concern - and it always is, virtually everywhere -- then if they're not coming to us, we ought to take it to them. Skeptics will say that the career petty criminal is not likely to become a season subscriber at Interplayers -- perhaps so, though Geiger is a minimum-security, white-collar-crime sort of place. And when Imoru leads her actors to where the kids are (Rogers High and other schools last spring for Othello, for example) or to the Kootenai Juvenile Facility, she's increasing the chances of some 16-year-old catching the theater bug early.

People like theater just fine; they just find it difficult to fit it into their schedule. We need to create a space for theater in their schedules for them.

Top marks to Interplayers for doing outreach like this.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home