Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Here to Be Seen: Women and Justice

Scroll through the critic picks in the Theater Section of The New York Times and you will notice the Off Off Broadway play Key Change on the list. Key Change is a taut piece about British imprisoned women. It was devised and written by Catrina McHugh based on women in Her Majesty's Prison and tells the poignant story about how the women ended up doing time. 

Given the positive review that Key Change received, I hope Here to Be Seen makes it to the New York City stage soon. In the fall, I was invited to a special production sponsored by the Kings County District Attorney Office and the Kings County Re-Entry Taskforce by a friend who works as a Criminal Justice consultant and had to hold back tears during parts of the production. The circumstances that led to imprisonment and the realization that this invisible population will pay for their crimes well beyond the time spent in prison hit a nerve. 

In Here to Be Seen, female ex-offenders (storytellers) are linked with playwrights to produce dramatized pieces.

The Context by Lucy Thurber
You Don't Know Me by Amina Henry
Anna by Stella Fawn Ragsdale
Caged by Julissa E. Contreras
Sponged by Pia Wilson
30 by Susan Soon He Stantonn
I'm Here to Be Seen by Raquel Almaza

In between the plays are statements about the challenges facing (formerly) incarcerated women - Employment, Voting Rights, Mental Health, Aging in Prison, Domestic Violence, and Parental Rights.

Here to be Seen is just as poignant as Key Change, and I hope more people get to see it one day. 

Photos of subjects, playwrights and creative team during the talkback. 

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