Expand Upon: Incarceration/Prison Industrial Complex

at the Ethnic Cultural Theatre

For the new Expand Upon series of staged readings, Mirror Stage commissions two local playwrights to each develop a short play responding to a community-selected theme, using the same multi- generational, multi-racial cast. For the second round of Expand Upon, the community selected the theme Incarceration/Prison Industrial Complex. The playwrights for Expand Upon: Incarceration/Prison Industrial Complex are Shontina Vernon and Andrew Lee Creech. Participating actors will be announced soon.

Incarceration is one of the main forms of punishment and rehabilitation for the commission of felony and other offenses in the United States. The United States has the largest prison population in the world, and the second-highest per-capita incarceration rate. Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) is a term used to describe the overlapping interests of government and industry that use surveillance, policing and imprisonment as solutions to economic, social and political problems. The PIC is not just prisons, themselves; it is the mutually reinforcing web of relationships between prisons, the probation service, the police, and the courts, as well as all the companies that profit from transporting, feeding and exploiting prisoners, and so forth.

Theatre That Gets People Talking, Mirror Stage’s innovative staged reading series have been engaging the community in examining and discussing topical issues from different perspectives since 2004. Presented without costumes or sets, the emphasis on the text encourages audiences to create their own imagined world inhabited by the play’s characters, increasing empathy and expanding awareness. Following every performance, a moderated discussion with the audience and artists explores the issues raised in more depth.

Mirror Stage gratefully acknowledges the support of
ArtsWA, the City of Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Posner-Wallace Foundation.

 ArtsWA  City of Seattle Office of Arts & Culture
 National Endowment for the Arts

A native of West Texas, Shontina Vernon is an artist and social justice activist who works across forms, using live music, choreography, multimedia, and poetic narrative to tells the stories of marginalized communities, privileging the lens of people of color and women. In 2016, Vernon was awarded the Robert Rauschenberg “Artist as Activist” Fellowship to establish the Visionary Justice StoryLab, an interdisciplinary arts collaboratory that brings together artists, educators, organizers, and community members to address systemic oppression through story. Vernon’s theatre credits include Wanted, commissioned by Hip Hop Theatre Festival and developed in part by the New York Theatre Workshop; A Lovely Malfunction (nominated for a 2016 Audelco Award); and Her Black Body Politic. Her work has been produced by Seattle’s ACT Theatre as part of the SoloNova Festival, the Hansberry Project, and developed at the Lark Play Development Center. Musically, Vernon has performed on stages throughout the US, Cuba, and Europe, with some of the best musicians in soul, rock, and hip-hop. A believer in the transformative power of personal narrative storytelling, She also works as a consultant in juvenile justice training on trauma informed practice through the creative arts, and has developed arts as an alternative to incarceration programs for youth, serving as mentor artist and facilitator with the Seattle-based Creative Justice Program, the Dallas County Juvenile Justice Department and the Door in New York. Vernon is a National Performance Network touring artist and a nominated playwright on the Kilroy’s List.

Andrew Lee Creech is a writer, performer, and hip-hop artist proudly hailing from the Pacific Northwest. His full-length play The Wild-Hearted was recently workshopped by Parley Productions, and Theatre Battery presented a reading of his hip-hop/spoken word play ‘Hood Dreams. Copious Love Productions is presenting the world premiere of his first full-length musical, JOURNEY WEST! The Legend of Lewis & Clark, at Theatre Off Jackson in summer 2018. Recent Acting Credits include Bobo in A Raisin in the Sun at Seattle Repertory Theatre, and Benvolio in Romeo & Juliet at Seattle Shakespeare Company. His next hip-hop effort, Fountain of Youth, is expected late 2017, under the alias “JRUE BLAZE.” Andrew holds a BFA in Acting with an emphasis in Playwriting and Directing from Cornish College of the Arts. He is a Regional Ambassador for the Dramatists Guild of America.