Soul Rebel Performance Troupe will perform a staged reading of The Exonerated, written by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, at Siena College, March 16-18. The Exonerated uses court transcripts, interviews and letters to recount, in their own words, the true stories of six Americans who were convicted and sentenced to death for crimes they did not commit. Together, the five men and one woman spent more than 100 years on death row before being freed.
Jean-Remy Monnay, the director, spoke about the decision to do this staged reading when the troupe performed it last May: “The Exoneratedtouches on many of the problems and devastating outcomes of the U.S. system of mass incarceration which are in the headlines and being debated on social media every day. We want to bring people from the community together and get them talking. Theatre provides us with a context to learn and talk about emotionally charged and controversial issues.”
Annie Rody-Wright, an attorney and Visiting Professor at Siena College, was in the audience last May and agreed with Monnay’s statement. She was very moved by the performance and wanted her students to see it. In addition to teaching Criminal Justice classes, she also teaches First Year Seminar (FYS) at Siena and in Greene Correctional Facility. The impact incarceration has on those incarcerated and their families is very real to her FYS students who have developed a peer relationship across the two campuses through continual review of each other’s papers.
“I am grateful to Jean-Remy for agreeing to bring Soul Rebel and The Exonerated to Siena so that we can all become more enlightened about the failings of our criminal justice system and the impact these failings have on the lives of the human beings who are victimized.” Rody-Wright will facilitate a discussion after each performance.
Monnay founded Soul Rebel Performance Troupe in 2009 after experiencing first-hand the void in performing arts opportunities for black men. It is the first theatre group in the greater Capital District dedicated to showcasing performance and theatrical work by artists of color. They will present a full production of A Lesson Before Dying, by Romulus Linney (based on the novel by Ernest Gaines), April 5-14 in Albany.
The Exonerated will be performed March 16-18, Friday and Saturday at 7:00 pm; Sunday at 1:00 pm at the Roger Bacon Auditorium of Siena College. Tickets are not required. Suggested donation is $10. For more information about upcoming productions: (518)833-2621; www.soulrebelperformancetroupe.org and facebook.com/soul-rebel-performance-troupe.