Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Performing Arts In Prison?

Recently I received a resource guide for prisoners across the US. Its resources were listed by state and there were two entries for Washington. One for a legal service and the other was a dance company in Seattle and goes to the woman's prison in Purdy, WA and teaches the women there performing arts.

So I got to thinking, why can't men have that too? What is the big deal about men learning to do set designs and learning contemporary dance and perhaps even other forms of dance. I just can't see the harm in it. It would greatly benefit us as human beings to be able to learn these types of art forms. It would also serve as a resume and character builder for us as felons when we release.

I heard it said to me here that this place can be a womb or a tomb. You can be reborn here and learn to live again or you can die here. What if a man comes to prison and learns that he loves dance or acting? What if a man that has been locked up for 30 years gets to see his very first play?

In the church services here there is a man who puts together little 3-5 minute skits and gets about a dozen or so guys together. Small things, simple, but the men here are just infatuated with them. What if they got to see a full play? What if we did Sweeney Todd? Could you imagine that? What if a man here has the talents of a great director or playwright?

The only harm I can see isn't harm at all, it's tragedy. What if those talents are allowed to be repressed and die? What if one of the most memorable stage performances that you ever see comes from the mind of a felon. A felon that previously had zero chance of success. But now does because a little prison in Washington allowed him to express himself and promoted his talents? What if?

I would hope that we could learn new things that cost the public nothing and have great benefits. All that is needed is a volunteer to come in regularly that is willing to teach old dogs new tricks. Watch us become beautiful! I promise that you will be surprised and happy with what you see.

Until next time...

Jeff Utnage 823469

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