On select nights, Nora’s Playhouse is thrilled to welcome experts on solitary confinement, mass incarceration, and criminal justice reform for very brief post-show conversations with the audience immediately following the show.

#whatdoesfreemean #HALTsolitary


July 7: Dr. Annette Hanson

Director of the University of Maryland’s Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship Program

Dr. Annette Hanson is an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She is the director of the University of Maryland forensic psychiatry fellowship program where she trains psychiatrists to provide care within secure settings such as jails, prisons, and forensic hospitals. Her clinical practice is set in the Maryland Division of Correction where she evaluates and treats seriously mentally ill offenders.

July 8: Michael Hanley

Public Defender, Santa Barbara, CA

Michael Hanley is a senior attorney at the Santa Barbara County Office of the Public Defender.  He is currently assigned to the county-wide Complex Litigation Unit which focuses on major crimes involving life sentences and lifetime civil commitments.  Michael has represented thousands of indigent persons accused of crimes, has conducted approximately 75 jury trials, and has represented clients in post-conviction resentencing hearings in the wake of legislative changes to the California Three-Strikes life-sentencing rules.  Michael is also an adjunct professor of law at the Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law. He teaches courses in evidence, criminal law practice, refugee and asylum law, and deportation defense

July 15: Katherine Sweetness Jennings

College and Community Fellowship, NY

“I am my own best friend and that is what I want you to know about me. Now for the facts; Born 1961 in the month of May, I received my early education in public schools in New York Queens.  I attended 3 colleges before I successfully completed the necessary requirements to obtain a BA degree in Sociology. I became a member of two churches between the years 1995-2002. I held the responsibility of Prison ministry chairperson at both institutions. “We who believe in freedom shall not rest until it comes”. I am a member of the Theatre for Social Change under the umbrella of College and Community Fellowship in New York City. I graduated from New York Theological Seminary class of 2012 with a Masters of Professional Studies.  I hold a credential to be an alcoholism and Substance abuse counselor with 15 years of work experience. My life I now live is one of service. I am the author of ‘Symptoms Of my Serenity’ a collection of my poems and prose written through the lens of fear, love, and gratitude for others to enjoy. This all has come to me in spite of all I have done or neglected to do.  My best me, makes Us a better We. Namaste”

July 18: Philip Hall

Writer, formerly incarcerated at Otisville Correctional Facility, NY

Philip Hall was born August 17, 1966 in Brooklyn, New York.  His favorite book is Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, and his favorite playwright is Lorraine Hansberry. Philip says, “The steel and stones of prison melts and crumbles before the pages of conscience that give birth to moral and spiritual imperatives that demand nothing less than Change, Change, Change!”

July 20: Vivian Nixon

Executive Director, College and Community Fellowship, NY

The Reverend Vivian Nixon is Executive Director of College and Community Fellowship (CCF), an organization committed to removing individual and structural barriers to higher education for women with criminal record histories and their families. As a formerly incarcerated woman and prior CCF program participant, Rev. Nixon is uniquely positioned to lead the charge to help justice-involved women and their families have a better future. While incarcerated, Rev. Nixon spent time as a peer educator for the adult basic education program at Albion State Correctional Facility in New York. Following her release, she was ordained by the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AMEC) and currently serves as an associate minister at Mt. Zion AMEC in New York City. She is a Columbia University Community Scholar and a recipient of the John Jay Medal for Justice, the Ascend Fellowship at the Aspen Institute, the Soros Justice Fellowship, and the Petra Foundation Fellowship. She is a co-founder of the Education from the Inside Out Coalition (EIO), a collaborative effort to increase access to higher education for justice-involved students and serves on the advisory board of JustLeadershipUSA. Rev. Nixon holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the State University of New York Empire College.

July 21: Sheila Samuels, Esq.

Former ADA for Orange County, NY; currently Samuels Law Firm, LLC

Sheila Samuels is an attorney and advocate with fifteen years of legal experience. She began her career as an Assistant District Attorney, then worked for a NYC law firm, before founding the Samuels Law Firm, where she concentrates on education law, elder law, and special needs planning. Sheila volunteers her legal services on a pro bono basis.   Sheila is an adjunct professor in the Department of Law, Police Science and Criminal Justice Administration at John Jay College. Her interests include Feminist Criminology, human and civil rights, and race, gender and the administration of justice and she frequently lectures on these issues.