WHEN: Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 3pm
WHERE: The Mill Hill Playhouse is located at 205 E. Front Street, at the corner of Montgomery Street in Trenton, NJ. Free guarded on-street parking.
TICKETS: $27. Student, group and senior discounts available. To purchase tickets call (609) 392-0766, or visit www.passagetheatre.org.
Written by the New Jersey Prison Cooperative, made up of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated prisoners in the New Jersey prison system, Caged will be directed by Jerrell L. Henderson. The world premiere’s cast includes Will Badgett, Andrew Binger, Ural Grant, Aaliyah Habeeb, Brandon Rubin and Monah Yancy, who is originally from Trenton.
The play follows the struggle of an African-American family in Newark to nurture love and dignity amid crushing poverty and the callousness of the court system and mass incarceration
“Our former Artistic Director June Ballinger chose to bring this play to Passage, and I am grateful that she did,” says Passage’s current Artistic Director, Ryanne Domingues. “This play is vital for our time and our community. It addresses the subject of mass incarceration with a depth and poetry that can only be expressed by those who have lived it, and I can’t wait to share their voices with our audience.”
Henderson says, “Caged is easily one of the most important stories to come my way. People of color’s stories and lives are glossed over and forgotten. This play is an unapologetically honest representation of how the love you feel for a mother or brother or child can be undercut by a tragic addiction or life circumstance. There are no easy decisions in this world and, as in life, black and brown people get caught in the system of mass incarceration by simply trying to do the best they can to survive.”
The script was developed and edited outside the prison in a series of theater workshops in New York City directed by Jeffrey Wise. Several formerly incarcerated writers, including Boris Franklin who worked on the original script and is now a student at Rutgers University, revised the script with the assistance of Wise, Henderson, C. Ryanne Domingues, the Artistic Director at Passage Theater, June Ballinger, the former Artistic Director of the Passage Theater, as well as professional actors in New York, one of whom spent five years as a corrections officer. Chris Hedges, who taught the original class, and actor Eunice Wong, also critiqued, edited and worked on the script. Ojore Lutalo, who spent 22 years in isolation in New Jersey State Prison in Trenton, consented to several hours of interviews to help shape what became one of the central characters in the play.
“We were 28 students in Professor Hedges’ drama class,” said Franklin, who will also act in the play. “As the semester wore on, it became clear we were 28 men who, with only a few variations, had the same story. At the beginning of the semester only seven students wanted parts, but as we worked on the play everyone wanted their voice to be heard. Much of our work over the last four years has been distilling these voices into the tight core of voices within the family who are at the center of the play. There are many, many people who have worked very hard to tell this story, which in the end, for poor people of color, is one story. I am proud to be a part of it.”