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  • Prison Performing Arts


Top photo: premiere of Run-On Sentence atWomen's Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center.

Bottom photo: production of Run-On Sentence by SATE.

Run-On Sentence,  the play PPA commissioned and first developed as part of our New Plays Initiative was nominated by the St. Louis Theatre Circle for BEST NEW PLAY Based on the experiences of female prison inmates, Run-On Sentence tells the story of cellmates whose lives are turned upside down by the arrival of a new inmate. Commissioned by PPA in 2016, Run-On Sentence was initially performed by inmates at Women's Eastern Reception, Diagnostic, and Correctional Center in Vandalia, MO and students at Fairleigh Dickinson University. In June 2018, St. Louis-based theatre company, SATE, produced its professional premiere. SATE’s production earned the St. Louis Theatre Circle’s nomination this January.

Stacie Lents, who directs the acting program at Fairleigh Dickinson University and the Barn Theater, is also a professional playwright and actor. Her plays Fire Exit, Henry’s Law, and Laugh Out Loud (cry quietly) are published by Playscripts, Inc. Her work has also been produced and developed at theaters such as Playwrights Theater of New Jersey, Luna Stage, StrangeDog Theatre Company, Rutgers University, and Horse Trade Theater Group. Stacie received her MFA from Rutgers, Mason Gross School of the Arts and her BA in Theater from Yale University.

About her work on Run-On Sentence, Ms. Lents said, “I was fortunate to be commissioned by Prison Performing Arts to work with the inspiring women of the Women’s Eastern Reception, Diagnostic, and Correctional Center. Although this play is fictional, their stories, experiences, and points view inspired the piece. The incarcerated women in Vandalia also inspired me as an artist. Their generosity, spirit of collaboration, and interest in finding their own voices as artists and people drove me to find a story that felt authentic. At several different points during my time with them, I asked them to tell me, “What do you hope audiences will get of this piece?” They all answered with variations on a few simple, but important themes: “We are human beings” and “It can happen to you.” I’m truly grateful to the St. Louis Theatre Circle for acknowledging the significance of this story and of these characters. ”

We offer our heartfelt congratulations to SATE, the playwright, Stacie Lents, and to all the participating women of WERDCC Vandalia.  Their stories and generous spirit contributed to the creation of this new and now highly-recognized work of art.

This nomination speaks to the very successful artistic collaborative process that produced Run-On Sentence, which was ultimately born as a labor of love and creativity within a prison. PPA’s mission is to give voice to incarcerated artists. This project is a primary example of validating and empowering the incarcerated men and women that PPA works so hard to support.  The awards will be announced announced at a gala ceremony on Monday, March 25, at the Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts (130 Edgar Rd., Webster Groves, MO 63119). The ceremony begins at 7 p.m.  

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