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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Finale Reading of "Anyone of Us"

We did it again, and it was simply fabulous! This time we performed the staged reading of Eve Ensler's "Anyone of Us: Voices from Prison" in The Black Box of the Relapse Theatre at 380 14th Street, N.W. in Atlanta, GA 30313. The day was sun-splashed perfection until the evening fell softly with the hypnotic melody of stormy rain. In this photo (graciously taken by Mr. Yemi Toure), cast members Nadirah and Brooklyn listen as I answer a question presented by the audience. I'd just finished dancing to Lydia's monologue of a woman leaving prison, her hands reaching out to gently touch the air surrounding her like a shawl, the leaves floating in circles of reds, browns and oranges.

Lydia, hand slightly raised, answers a question from the audience while Noel and Darci give a listen.

Nadirah shares her knowledge in her characteristic regal manner.

Our lovely Angelique Burke was absolutely amazing in her premier role as director. Her leadership reflected her professional expertise and the ability to engage our stunning and diverse cast in activities and exercises that brought us closer together and made us more aware of how the prison industry impacts our lives.

Oooops! (Didn't know how to delete pictures once I posted them here) A repeat picture and of course it would be of me talking, an activity that brings me great joy. I couldn't help sharing with the audience whenever I could, for I firmly believe that we are one. Truly, any one of the monologues could have been anyone of the women in our cast or audience.

Our knowledgeable and caring audience were invaluable to our performance. Without them, we would not have been. They listened tentatively, their faces revealing the temperatures of their internal horizons, and presented us with supportive commentary and provocative questions at our reading's end. When Angelique distributed slips of paper for their comments, one wrote: "The presentation puts you through so many emotions---rage, horror, disgust, anger, sorrow---that it's hard to think as to the problem and solution that cries out from every story told. That "no one is listening," that it could happen to you because it's the circumstance not the "bad" people that is principal. This is mayhem on a grand scale. We must put the whole system responsible for this in its grave!"
Others offered the names of social change organizations (i.e. and one lady spoke of various interventions her agency practiced.

Director Burke opened the floor to discussion and provided the cast with an opportunity to respond to audience questions. In addition, she distributed a resource sheet of organizations and their contact names and numbers to the audience.
Women's Prison Association
WPA is the nation's oldest service and advocacy organization committed to helping women with criminal justice histories see new possibilities for themselves and their families.
Critical Resistance
A national organization dedicated to opposing the expansion of the prison industrial complex.
INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence
A national activist organization of radical feminists of color advancing a movement to end violence against women of color and our communities through direct action, critical dialogue, and grassroots organizing.
Men Stopping Violence
Men Stopping Violence is a social change organization dedicated to ending men's violence against women.
Baitul Salaam Network, Inc.
Help eliminate the climate of fear and ignorance that makes family violence possible
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
Anchor Hospital
Specializes in the treatment of behavioral health and addictive disease disorders for adults and adolescents in 24/7 confidential assessments, partial, and in and out patient services.
Coaching, Consultation and Counseling Services
Angelique L. Burke
One gentleman in the audience came up to the stage after the reading and gifted me with a copy of the newspaper, REVOLUTION. The March 8, 2009 issue heralded the subject "A Declaration: For Women's Liberation And The Emancipation of All Humanity." Its articles speak poignantly of the thickly weaved fabric of oppression of women and girls around the globe.
Nadirah and Brooklyn heed an impassioned remark.

Director Burke enjoys her role and the exchange of thought and passion.

The cast of "Anyone of Us" on stage after the reading.

Participating in this production was truly a blessed experience. I am thankful Angelique remembered me and called me to join her and the other young women in our cast to bring the forgotten plight of imprisoned women to the forefront of our consciousness. Now that some of our imprisoned sisters' stories are before us, let us rally behind them in the ways that we choose to keep the topic before as many people as possible. Let us dialogue with others to brainstorm what we can do, in our own little corners of the world, to make our society better, more peaceful for women and girls and all humanity.
Peace be onto you...

1 comment:

Ahma Daeus said...

A “SINGLE VOICE PROJECT” is the official name of the petition sponsored by: The National Public Service Council To Abolish Private Prisons (NPSCTAPP)


The National Public Service Council To Abolish Private Prisons (NPSCTAPP) is a grass roots organization driven by a single objective. We want the United States government to reclaim sole authority for state and federal prisons on US soil.
We want the United States Congress to immediately rescind all state and federal contracts that permit private prisons “for profit” to exist in the United States, or any place subject to its jurisdiction. We understand that the problems that currently plague our government, its criminal justice system and in particular, the state & federal bureau of prisons (and most correctional and rehabilitation facilities) are massive. However, it is our solemn belief that the solutions for prison reform will remain unattainable and virtually impossible as long as private prisons for profit are permitted to operate in America.

Prior to the past month, and the fiasco of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG, Lehman Brothers, and now the “Big Three” American Automobile manufacturers, the NPSCTAPP has always felt compelled to highlight the “moral Bottom line” when it comes to corrections and privatization. Although, we remain confounded by the reality that our government has allowed our justice system to be operated by private interests. The NPSCTAPP philosophy has always been “justice” should not be for sale at any price. It is our belief that the inherent and most fundamental responsibility of the criminal justice system should not be shirked, or “jobbed-out.” This is not the same as privatizing the post office or some trash pick up service in the community. There has to be a loss of meaning and purpose when an inmate looks at a guard’s uniform and instead of seeing an emblem that reads State Department of Corrections or Federal Bureau of Prisons, he sees one that says: “Atlas Prison Corporation.”

Let’s assume that the real danger of privatization is not some innate inhumanity on the part of its practitioners but rather the added financial incentives that reward inhumanity. The same logic that motivates companies to operate prisons more efficiently also encourages them to cut corners at the expense of workers, prisoners and the public. Every penny they do not spend on food, medical care or training for guards is a dime they can pocket. What happens when the pennies pocketed are not enough for the shareholders? Who will bailout the private prison industry when they hold the government and the American people hostage with the threat of financial failure…“bankruptcy?” What was unimaginable a month ago merits serious consideration today. State and Federal prison programs originate from government design, and therefore, need to be maintained by the government. It’s time to restore the principles and the vacated promise of our judicial system.

John F. Kennedy said, “The time to repair the roof is while the sun is shinning”. Well the sun may not be shinning but, it’s not a bad time to begin repair on a dangerous roof that is certain to fall…. because, “Incarcerating people for profit is, in a word WRONG”

There is an urgent need for the good people of this country to emerge from the shadows of cynicism, indifference, apathy and those other dark places that we migrate to when we are overwhelmed by frustration and the loss of hope.
It is our hope that you will support the NPSCTAPP with a show of solidarity by signing our petition. We intend to assemble a collection of one million signatures, which will subsequently be attached to a proposition for consideration. This proposition will be presented to both, the Speaker Of The House Of Representatives (Nancy Pelosi) and the United States Congress.

Please Help Us. We Need Your Support. Help Us Spread The Word About This Monumental And Courageous Challenge To Create Positive Change. Place The Link To The Petition On Your Website! Pass It On!

The SINGLE VOICE PETITION and the effort to abolish private “for profit” prisons is the sole intent of NPSCTAPP. Our project does not contain any additional agendas. We have no solutions or suggestions regarding prison reform. However, we are unyielding in our belief that the answers to the many problems which currently plague this nation’s criminal justice system and its penal system in particular, cannot and will not be found within or assisted by the private “for profit” prison business. The private “for profit” prison business has a stranglehold on our criminal justice system. Its vice-like grip continues to choke the possibility of justice, fairness, and responsibility from both state and federal systems.
These new slave plantations are not the answer!

For more information please visit: or email:
To sign the petition please visit:


William Thomas
National Community Outreach Facilitator
The National Public Service Council To Abolish Private Prisons
P.O. Box 156423
San Francisco, California 94115