By Darick T. Earney
On Feb. 11, 2015, the Prison Performing Arts Alumni Troupe (PPA) toured for the first time in Illinois, and visited Lewis and Clark Community College to perform their original play, “Coming Home”.
There was no entry fee for the event as it was held in the Benjamin Godfrey Memorial Chapel on the L&C campus from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
In attendance were several L&C students, professors, and members of the Godfrey community to show their support. The play followed the lives of each member of the PPA detailing their lives from both a character, and autobiographical standpoint.
“A week after the event, my students are still talking about the performance. Many have said that they didn’t realize how difficult it would be to re-enter society, and the performance made this clear,” L&C Professor of Sociology, Jenn Cline said.
Each scene from “Coming Home” provided the audience with examples of the struggles of re-entering society as a convicted felon, but with a touch of comic relief to keep the audience entertained.
An earlier scene shows an inmate going to visit a parole office after being released from prison and being pressured by a con artist into almost committing another crime.
Another scene is a fake advertisement for a product called the “De-institutionalizer Plus”, a spray can product that allows former inmates to be welcomed back into society with just a single squeeze of the spray.
After the show, the play’s director, Rachel Tibbetts, provided a microphone to the audience where they were given the opportunity to ask the actors questions.
This allowed the troupe to share stories about their personal struggles with re-entering into society, in the same way that their characters did, and what it means for them to be a part of the PPA.
“My goal as part of the PPA is to show the community that criminals can change, and deserve a chance to,” PPA Troupe Alumni Actress, Dawn Harris said.
For some of the actors, the PPA has given them a chance to fulfill their desire to give back to their community:
“My favorite part about being in the PPA is the opportunity to share a piece of myself through performances; to give back to the community in a positive way,” PPA Troupe Alumni Actor, Chris Harris said.
For more information on PPA, visit their website, prisonartsstl.org, for upcoming events.
Contact Darick at firstname.lastname@example.org