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Special Presentation – Felon: An American Washi Tale, presented by the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater
March 17 • 7:00 pm - 8:30 pmFree
Alone in solitary confinement, a teenager called out to the men in the hole with him: “Somebody, send me a book!” Moments later, Dudley Randall’s The Black Poets slid under his cell door. Those pages were the start of the teen’s transformation into a poet, lawyer, and promoter of the rights of prisoners. Now, 23 years after his release from prison, Reginald Dwayne Betts explores the experience and consequences of his incarceration in a compelling solo theater show based on his poetry collection, Felon. Betts, who recently received a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, advocates for literacy in prisons and is the founding director of the nonprofit organization Freedom Reads, which delivers books to inmates and brings contemporary writers and artists together with incarcerated audiences. The theater piece is a meditation on life after prison, criminal justice, art-making and community. Related events include a panel discussion around legal and ethical questions embedded in the play on March 2; a call to action conversation and lobby event led by Students for Prison Education, Abolition and Reform and the Prison Teaching Initiative on March 3; a joyful celebration on March 4 marking the anniversary of Betts’ release from prison, including the Camden Youth Jazz Band and special guests; and an exhibition of work by Felon set designer, visual artist Kyoko Ibe, made from Japanese washi paper through March 5. Cosponsored and in collaboration with numerous University departments, organizations, and offices.