Anguish and Applause at Sing Sing

The feel-good story of the day. Lawrence Downes of the New York Times attends the fourth night of the Sing Sing inmates' production of Oedipus Rex.

Sing Sing is not known as a progressive place. But its theater program is a rarity in New York prisons. It relies on a nonprofit group, Rehabilitation Through the Arts, and the savvy benevolence of Sing Sing's superintendent, Brian Fischer.

....As I watched, I wondered what it would be like to be defined by my own worst sins. It struck me that when people are locked up for horrible crimes, a lot of goodness and beauty necessarily get locked up too. It also seemed that the Theban society onstage - though afflicted by plague, vengeance and divine cruelty - was probably gentler and saner than the one the inmates knew. Its members clearly cared for one another, and were not numb to grief.

A good reminder that we are all more than the sum of our misdeeds.

After the curtain fell and the applause finally died, the crew joined the cast onstage, with officers quickly posted on the left and right steps. The inmates crowded the footlights, straining for the hands of audience members who filed slowly past to say thank you, great job, wonderful show. Clearing the room of visitors in small escorted groups took nearly an hour. The inmates never stopped chattering and hugging, their faces shining with relief, and with the yearning to savor every moment before the spell was broken and they were taken to their cells

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    by aw on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 12:10:04 PM EST
    I read that article and thought the same thing.  There is so much potential that is just wasted.  Under different circumstances they might have discovered and developed it.

    I wish we could have more prison programs like this.