Correctional Institute (MCI) Norfolk Prison Theatre program
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.
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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