Our second Fall Black Box drama is yet another original work brought to us through the talents of the Tabor Community. The first show, “Lucky Me” was researched and written by our students, while this play was written by English teacher John Heavey. The play is inspired by Heavey’s year-long volunteer work running a writing workshop for inmates at the Barnstable Correctional Facility in Falmouth. Heavey was on sabbatical last year and this was one of the service projects he began during that time.
“I decided over the summer to create a play that explored the inmate experience in American prisons. I drew most of my material from online websites that proudly feature inmate writing from max security prisons across the country. In addition to drawing inmate stories from these websites, I also drew material from Ear Hustle, a podcast created by inmates at San Quentin Prison in the San Francisco Bay area,” said Heavey.
The show explores such aspects of incarceration as having a cellmate or “cellie,” the grinding daily routine of prison life, enduring bland, high-carb prison food, the joy and anguish of having family visitors, therapy sessions with a prison psychologist, and stories of rehabilitation from alcohol and drugs. Heavey suggested that these lines drawn from the introduction of “Doing Time” states the purpose of the show: “The criminal justice system is in crisis in this country. It badly needs reform. Our show wants to give you a glimpse into the daily life of someone “doing time.” The inmate stories you’re about to hear show worthwhile people who are trying to get their lives together and get a second chance to enter back into society.”
While the subject and stories the students are working with is heavy, the cast and crew have been buoyed by the tight-knit, supportive group they have formed as a cast. The group has been hard at work with a serious purpose to give the inmates’ stories as realistic a telling as possible. Beyond rehearsal, the group visited the Barnstable Correctional Facility to meet some of the people Mr. Heavey has worked with in his volunteer work, and to share their work on the play with them.
The students are eager to perform their show for the Tabor community and hope it might raise some questions and dialogue about incarceration after the show. After all, that is what good drama is designed to do: to raise questions, emotions, and engender response in the audience.
“Doing Time” will be performed November 8, 9, and 10 at 7:30 PM in the Will Parker Black Box Theater. Tickets may be reserved by calling the school’s switchboard at 508-748-2000.