Mass incarceration is an acknowledged crisis in the United States. Most public attention has focused on male prisoners, but it is women who bear the brunt of the consequences when they or the men in their lives are sent away. More than 205,000 women are incarcerated in America today, up 700% in three decades. Most of these women are mothers, and many of them are first-time offenders. But the statistics don’t capture the enormity of the impact mass incarceration has on women, and popular culture depictions of incarcerated women still tend toward the sensational and melodramatic.
Through this imaginative and poetic theatre piece, Nora’s Playhouse hopes to dispel the stereotypes associated with incarceration and help forward conversations about what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. We will explore our main character Mary’s days in solitary confinement as she tries keep her sanity in the face of loneliness, indifference, human cruelty, and loss. She grapples with internal voices that threaten to loosen her grip on reality; but anger, outrage, strength, and humor carry Mary through her period of incarceration.