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Massachusetts Correctional Institute (MCI) Norfolk Prison Theatre program

"Blackrhythms" program (1972)
Hanging Lights photograph (ca. 1972)
Solo dance from "Blackrhythms" photograph (ca. 1972

Theater can be a platform for the celebration of personal and community identity; it can also serve as a positive force for social change. In 1970, the Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts established the Massachusetts Correctional Institute (MCI) Norfolk Prison Theatre program. The school was founded to meet the social, cultural, and artistic needs of Boston's African American community, needs that were also unmet in the Massachusetts correctional system. The program was devised in order to provide training in theater production to an inmate population largely comprising men of color. It taught skills that could be used for gainful employment upon release and fostered pride in the inmates' own powers of creation. In preparation, the men created several productions in which they were entirely responsible for writing, acting, music, and production.

"Blakrhythms" was produced in 1972, and comprised four thematic segments: Africa, dope, prison, and the black woman. Written by Bruce C. Geary, also known as Sayif, the production also incorporated student dancers from the Elma Lewis School. From the Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts records.

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