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artist to artist

audio stories from PPA alumni and professional actors who shared character roles inside/outside prison

Conversations recorded on Zoom in August 2021. Actors were given a series of prompt questions:

  • When you were first cast as your character, what were your initial thoughts/first impressions?

  • What did you most enjoy about playing your character?

  • What was most challenging about playing your character?

  • What did you learn playing your character?

  • Do you remember anything from each other’s performances?

    • Some actors had the opportunity to see the other actor play the same role in a different production. 

  • If you were cast in the play again, is there another character you would like to portray?

King Claudius from Hamlet

Featuring Edgar Evans and Eric Satterfield

Eric has played King Claudius twice, both times in PPA productions at Northeast Correctional Center in Bowling Green, MO. He is currently playing a younger version of Claudius in his original play, (with co-playwright, David Nonemaker) Elsinore. 


Edgar played King Claudius in PPAs first ever production of Hamlet at Missouri Eastern Correctional Center in Pacific, MO. ACT V of this production was featured in a 2002 episode of THIS AMERICAN LIFE. 

Excerpt from Claudius
Full Claudius Conversation
mel from run-on sentence

Featuring LaWanda Jackson and Taleesha Caturah

Run-On Sentence is a comedic drama by Stacie Lents, inspired by the playwright’s experiences working with incarcerated women at Women’s Eastern Reception, Diagnostic, and Correctional Center (WERDCC) in Vandalia, MO. Commissioned by Prison Performing Arts, the play tells the story of cellmates whose lives are turned upside down by the arrival of a new inmate. Both moving and funny, the play asks: should people be defined by our worst mistake? St. Louis based theatre company, SATE, produced the professional world premiere.

LaWanda played Mel in PPA productions at WERDCC in 2017 and 2018. She also participated in the workshops that helped playwright, Stacie Lents, develop the play. 


Taleesha played Mel in SATE’s St. Louis production in 2018. Stacie Lents received a Best New Play nomination by the St. Louis Theatre Circle for the SATE production in 2019. 

Excerpt from Mel
Full Mel Conversation
Elizabeth (Lizzie) Bennet from First Impressions

Featuring Autumn Smith and Ellie Schwetye

First Impressions is an adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice. This original play incorporates the "first impressions" women at WERDCC experienced the first time they encountered Pride and Prejudice. First Impressions was originally produced by SATE, and used recollections from a variety of people’s "first impressions" upon reading the novel and/or watching a film adaptation. First Impressions was conceived by Ellie Schwetye and Rachel Tibbetts.

Autumn portrayed Lizze in PPA’s production in 2019. She also participated in the writing workshops that helped create the WERDCC version of the script. 


Ellie portrayed Lizzie in SATE’s 2017 production. SATE’s production received the 2018 Theatre Circle Award for Best New Play.

Excerpt from Lizzie
Full Lizzie Conversation

Credit for Accompanying Photography: Nan Rochberg, Joey Rumpell, and Steve Tharp

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