Sarah Shourd is partnering with Solitary Watch to write and produce a play using real stories from a diverse pool of people in solitary confinement in the United States today. The stories will represent a spectrum of people—immigrants, children, lifers and women. Some will have lived in solitary for a quarter of a century, others a few months or weeks.
Our fundraising efforts will last 42 days in recognition of the 42 years Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox of the Angola 3 have spent in solitary confinement in Louisiana.
ABOUT THE PROJECT: BY SARAH SHOURD
For this project I will draw from my own experience as an author, a journalist and the 410 days I spent in solitary confinement while held as a political hostage by the Iranian government from 2009-2010. My goal is to portray real stories with truthfulness, dignity and complexity and also to make the experience of watching this play as visceral as possible.
I want the audience to breathe along with a young man having a panic attack after being denied a visit with his mother, to crawl inside the skin of an immigrant detainee terrified of being deported and to travel with a lifer on a magic carpet of memory—only to be pulled back into the stark, implacable reality of the hole. By hearing these stories, my hope is that the audience will be able to relate to the men and women enduring this torture in our prisons, to their pain but also to their resistance to the dehumanizing forces around them, their incredible resilience…and their refusal to be institutionalized.
Once the play is written we’ll move to stage production—enlisting well-known actors and survivors to perform in cities across the country. Our strategy is not just to perform the play—in each city we visit we will meet with local politicians, prison officials, activists, survivors and their families. Everywhere we go, we will provide our audience with ways to stay involved, act on what they’ve seen and contribute to nation-wide efforts to end this practice in our prisons for good.
Become a Producer for ‘Opening the Box’:
We want your name on our permanent website and playbill!
$100 donation = Your name on our permanent website as a donor
$250 donation = Your name on our permanent website as an elite donor
$500 donation = Your name on our website as a top donor
$1000 donation = Your name on website and playbill as a producer
$2,500 donation = Your name on website and playbill as an elite producer
$5,000 donation = Your name on website and playbill as a top producer
Sarah Shourd is an author, activist and Contributing Editor at Solitary Watch. She spent 410 days in solitary confinement while held as a political hostage by the Iranian Government in 2009-2010. Before being captured Shourd was living in a Palestinian Refugee Camp in Damascus, Syria working with the Iraqi Student Project. She’s written for The New York Times, CNN, Newsweek's Daily Beast and has a blog on Huffington Post. Her memoir (co-authored by her now-husband Shane Bauer and friend Josh Fattal)will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in Spring 2014. For more information visit: sarahshourd.com.
Rebecca Bowe is the Investigative Projects Editor at the San Francisco Bay Guardian, where she covers topics ranging from housing, to immigration, to environment, labor, to Bay Area activism and police issues. She's worked at the Guardian since 2009, except in 2012, when she joined the staff of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital civil liberties organization.
"As a journalist who has covered social justice activism and civil liberties issues for years, I'm excited to be part of a project that is shedding light on the egregious and inhumane practice of solitary confinement."