Prison Theater Piece Invokes Alexander's Work

Auburn, New York

Cornell Chronicle reporter Linda Glaser reviews the Phoenix Players Theater Group's production of "The Strength of Our Convictions: The Auburn Redemption" at the Auburn Correctional Facility.

[The show] gives attendees a hint of what it's like to be a prisoner in the maximum security facility. Processed, stamped, stripped of belongings, herded down long, locked corridors by prison guards, the audience is ushered into a room from which no one can leave until the corrections officers say it's time.

Not that anyone wants to leave. ...

Molina and Tyreek Williams' rap, "Blame/Conspiracy Theory," accompanied by Robert Lawrence's beat boxing, drives home how normal prison was for these men growing up, something that happened to every family. This piece tackles the larger societal issues, invoking Michelle Alexander – a civil-rights lawyer and legal scholar – and her book, "The New Jim Crow." As Molina says at the end of the scene, "… the state of his community has desensitized him to crime and violence, while his social economic status has placed him at a disadvantage. A poor child with poor choices. But still one must survive. And if Darwin's theory is correct, and naturally we adapt to our environment, then what choice did I truly have?"

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