The longest-running prison theatre program is returning to the stage for its 58th production.
Oct. 5 brings The Crossroads: A Prison Cabaret to William Head Institution for a fantastical performance underneath the roots of a giant tree. Set in an underground world where society’s rejects were buried at crossroads, the supernatural characters host a cabaret and struggle to reconnect with the larger society.
“We built this satirical look at some interesting themes that are part of the human condition, but also are very relevant to their world which is about isolation and intolerance and a sense of needing to work to find your identity in the world,” director Kate Rubin said.
“It also is relevant to people who are incarcerated in the sense of being on the outside. There’s definitely a link there, but it’s also a larger commentary on what we do as humans when we can’t tolerate someone’s ideas.”
It’s the fourth production directed at the prison by Rubin, an award-winning director hailing from SNAFU and Prison Arts Collective. She’s helped the men develop their ideas, write the musical and bring it to life for nearly three months.
“What we have found, and is true everywhere, is innately in anyone there are incredible talents, ” Rubin said.
Out of the 200 men incarcerated at William Head, Rubin said a quarter of their population is involved, from greeting the audience to the sewing team to building and painting the set. For the inmates, the show is an opportunity to hone their talents to express themselves.
“Within a prison environment it isn’t the norm to work in a collective way, so this is an unusual and unique way to do that,” Rubin said.
Most of the men in William Head are in the last stages of their sentence, and Rubin hopes working on the show will help them transition and get back in touch with the outside world. A question and answer period will be held at the end of each performance.
“There’s a rehabilitative thing that’s inherently there with the chance to work creatively,” Rubin said.
Tickets must be purchased in advance at the Ticket Rocket Box Office or at ticketrocket.co. Audience members need to be 19 years or older and carry government-issued ID, but no other personal items with the exception of life-saving medicines. Once at William Head Institution, audience members will be scanned and sniffed by a trained dog. The Crossroads will be performed Oct. 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27 and Nov. 1, 2 and 3 with a matinee.