ALL: (SINGING) On a sliver of hope, on a turbulent sea, shrouded by mist and misery, adrift toward the lights of sanctuary, the lost boys who need to be found-- beckoning, beckoning, all who are here. Break through the blue and through the fear. Listen, oh, listen to the foghorns play. You'll play, too, one day.
Wave upon wave, joy twisted with pain, desire intertwined with frustration-- washed upon stones encrusting our souls, when will there be a cessation? Beckoning, beckoning all who are here. Break through the blue and through the fear. Listen, oh, listen to the foghorns play. You'll play, too, one day. On a sliver of hope, on a turbulent sea, shrouded by the mist and misery, adrift toward the lights of sanctuary, the lost boys who need to be found.
SPEAKER 1: Steve's got some things--
SPEAKER 2: A general [INAUDIBLE].
SPEAKER 1: A general observation he wants to make--
SPEAKER 2: Yeah, I want to remind ourselves of where we are and what we're doing here. Because, in the midst of all of this stuff that's driving Bruce crazy-- and it's a normal process for us in the theater, but not for you all, how hard this is to get it all organized.
SPEAKER 3: OK, and now we're going to pick up our ball game with an imaginary ball. But we're going to add something to it, and that is, as you throw the ball to someone, say a word or a short phrase from one of your Shakespeare pieces.
SPEAKER 2: The main thing that I'm concerned with is that we don't forget who you are doing this. This is not about you doing Shakespeare. This is about Shakespeare doing you.
SPEAKER 3: I do refer me to the oracle.
SPEAKER 4: All the world's a stage.
SPEAKER 5: I am they father's spirit.
SPEAKER 6: Woman are worn angels.
SPEAKER 3: Apollo, be my judge.
SPEAKER 7: My kingdom for a camera.
ALL: We are a community of transformation. Through the power of self-discovery, we create the opportunity to know and grow into ourselves-- 1, 2, 3-- B-B-T-G. Whew!
SPEAKER 8: [INAUDIBLE] talk about--
SPEAKER 9: All right.
SPEAKER 8: OK.
SPEAKER 9: So, you want me to read [INAUDIBLE]?
SPEAKER 8: Let's start with Kenny's, because Kenny's got one before you.
SPEAKER 10: And-- and, remember, those conjunctions give you the new energy. And--
SPEAKER 11: And, [INAUDIBLE] even at this present time. Now, while I speak this, hold this--
SPEAKER 12: I have been studying how I may compare this prison where I live unto the world. I cannot do it, yet I'll hammer it out.
SPEAKER 13: Yes, good. OK, that's exactly right.
SPEAKER 14: This confession dangles from the moments that ended a life. Oh, my offense is rank. It smells to heaven. It had the primal, loudest curse upon it, a brother's murder. It's really hard to watch, because I'm responsible for taking someone's life. I was talking to Alana for a minute about it, and it was really hard watching, because you realize that you're in a system that doesn't really let you grieve. Because, when you're responsible for that, you lose your own value as a person. You lose your own humanity.
I need my things. It's over. You-- you lied to me. I can't trust you. No, no, no, no! You sick fuck! I'm a liar? Get in the car. I'm going to have you taken care of once and for all. No!
SPEAKER 15: And watch this, Shane. Just watch it. Boom, there you go.
SPEAKER 16: 22 earth revolutions around the sun plus life for a conviction that rested solely on the testimony of a well-known liar in search of personal gains, nothing linking this lost soul to the crime, not a shred of evidence of any kind--
So they offered me five years. And the judge-- I have it in the transcripts, in black and white. The judge states-- listen, let's give closure to this case, take five years. As a matter of fact, the district attorney offered you six to 12. I'm offering you-- the courts-- five years just to put closure to this. And I just-- I was like, no. I didn't do this. I'm not taking this. So, I want to add it to my script-- you know, to my--
SPEAKER 17: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think it'll work nicely.
SPEAKER 16: This is a travesty, cried the singer. Order in the court, said the judge-- case adjourned until sentencing.
SPEAKER 14: But what form of prayer can serve my term? May one be pardoned and still retain the offense? What then? What rest?
SPEAKER 16: We move to set aside the verdict, denied. CPL 440, denied--
SPEAKER 14: Try what repentance can. What can it not? Yet, what can it-- well, one cannot repent! Line--
SPEAKER 16: Certificate of appealability, filed and denied--
SPEAKER 14: Oh, wretched state, bosom black as dirt-- oh, [INAUDIBLE] soul that's struggling to be free art more engaged. Line--
SPEAKER 16: Help, angels!
SPEAKER 14: Help, angels. Make assay.
SPEAKER 16: Make right what is wrong.
SPEAKER 14: Bow, stupid knees. And heart with strains of-- become soft as sinews. But the newborn--
SPEAKER 18: Now it's going to be OK.
SPEAKER 14: --babe.
SPEAKER 18: It's going to be OK.
SPEAKER 14: That all may be well--
SPEAKER 18: And just, so we know that he ends in prayer-- just do some-- yeah, there we go. All may be well, so there's just that moment of hope at the end, that it may, you know-- he may get past this.
SPEAKER 16: Oh, chained soul, struggling to be free, bow and persist to trouble to death heavens with cries.
SPEAKER 14: I really don't know what to do. I want so much to be able to-- to be able to heal and to somehow bring light into the world after bringing so much darkness. It's been 17 years.
There's nothing I can do.
SPEAKER 19: A couple of announcements-- I hear that some of you already know. The performance has been moved to the 19th.
SPEAKER 16: We could have rehearsed this 1,000 times, 1,000 different ways, but not until we get on that stage is that we'll know exactly how it actually is going to come out.
SPEAKER 20: Right.
SPEAKER 16: So--
SPEAKER 19: The really good news is that they're letting us rehearse in the chapel Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday night.
SPEAKER 3: Is that not cool?
SPEAKER 21: That's cool.
SPEAKER 19: The 16th, 17th, and 18th-- so, we'll have three rehearsals in the space in which we're performing. OK, guys. You want to do a little opening, and then we'll get started? What time is it? Yeah, OK. 7:35-- so, maybe in five minutes-- and then we'll go.
SPEAKER 3: Welcome, everybody. Thank you so much for coming out to be with us this evening.
And all of us who've been working with the Phoenix Players Theater Group, otherwise known as PPTG, are so happy and thrilled to be able to share this performance with you tonight.
SPEAKER 22: Thank you so much, and enjoy "Maximum Will."
SPEAKER 16: How she holds up the [INAUDIBLE], the bill to him, and arms her with the boldness of a wife to her allowing husband. You know, it's helped us look at life in a different way and has allowed for us to deal with our anger in different ways than just [INAUDIBLE].
SPEAKER 14: --are burnt and purged away.
SPEAKER 23: Burnt down to embers, you've purged the way by those in high office with low ambitions for a crime which is not mine. Community is important, the most important thing. It's even more important than acting. Because, if there's no support, there's no growth, you know? It has to be a community, cohesiveness-- you know, trust.
SPEAKER 14: Every day, I look for a sign. I am enslaved and toil, a debt never to be repaid. Each day, I awake and Sisyphus's rock upward rolls. What PPTG has shown me is that, like, all of us have diamonds. And all of us are also jewelers. We have our own two hands. We have a mind. We have a heart. We have two feet, and we're able to place that diamond in the most perfect way to release its incredible brilliance.
SPEAKER 23: What should one do while enclosed in three walls of steel? As the sunlight flickers across the front gate, one is reminded that there's life beyond the wall.
SPEAKER 24: (SINGING) On a sliver of hope, on a turbulent sea, shrouded by mist and misery, adrift toward the lights of sanctuary, the lost boys who need to be found-- beckoning, beckoning all who are here. Break through the blue and through the fear. Listen, oh, listen to foghorns play. You'll play, too, one day. Wave upon wave, joy twisted with pain, desire intertwined with--
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Since 2011, performing and media arts professor Bruce Levitt has been the lead facilitator for the Phoenix Players Theatre Group (PPTG) at Auburn Correctional Facility, a program initiated by inmates in 2009. This short film is based on footage from a documentary Levitt is making about the group and theater as a transformational force, filmed with student participation at the Auburn prison.
Credit: Jamie Lewis '12 and Joey Triska '12