Starting Over at Sing Sing Correctional Facility

Sing Sing Correctional Facility, Ossining, NY, March 2010

In early 2010, Jeff Glaser directed a production of Starting Over, written by a group of incarcerated men at Woodbourne Correctional Facility, at Sing Sing Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison just north of New York City.  I partnered with Jeff as something more than an acting coach, something very like a co-director, but it was definitely Jeff’s production.  The play is about the struggle to maintain family relationships while one is incarcerated for a long time.  It is both thrilling and challenging to work with these men, most of whom have never seen a play before (except the ones in which they have performed at Sing Sing), and they are keen to investigate the text, to find a way to be truthful, to better understand themselves and their often tragic experiences through theatrical exploration.

RTA Sing Sing’s mantra

“Tell the truth.  Tell the story.  Be nice to each other.”

Jeff and I have struck up an unusual and exciting collaboration in our work with  Rehabilitation Through the Arts (RTA) at Sing Sing Correctional Facility; we team-taught two directing workshops at Sing Sing in 2010, and I am directing Tracy Letts’ Superior Donuts there now, with Jeff as very-nearly-but-not-quite co-director.

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Having a vision of the way ahead is fundamental.
– Deborah Warner

You lie, in faith, for you are called plain Kate,
And bonny Kate, and sometimes Kate the curst;
But Kate, the prettiest Kate in Christendom,
Kate of Kate Hall, my super-dainty Kate,
For dainties are all Kates, and therefore, Kate,
Take this of me, Kate of my consolation…
--The Taming of the Shrew, Act II, scene i