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‘Run-On Sentences’ play shares the voices, stories of incarcerated women

Stacie Lents, Rachel Tibbetts and Christopher Limber talk about artistic approaches to rehabilitation for incarcerated women.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio
Stacie Lents, Rachel Tibbetts and Christopher Limber talk about artistic approaches to rehabilitation for incarcerated women.

A creative collaboration between a nationally known playwright and a group of women incarcerated in Vandalia, Missouri, is bringing new voices and stories to St. Louis theater-goers with the production “Run-On Sentence.”

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the initiative, which is a partnership between Prison Performing Arts and the award-winning SATE Ensemble.

The effort aims to move and entertain audiences and extend public awareness, particularly about the effects of incarceration and innovative, artistic approaches to rehabilitation.

Joining Marsh for the conversation were playwright Stacie Lents, Christopher Limber, director of adult prison programs for Prison Performing Arts (PPA), and Rachel Tibbetts, director of youth programs and artistic director with the SATE Ensemble.

Prison Performing Arts, founded 28 years ago, helps incarcerated individuals prepare for life after prison. The organization’s new initiative is specially commissioned plays, where nationally known playwrights go to one of the three prisons PPA is involved with, to develop a new play based on a workshop with the incarcerated participants.

“‘Run-On Sentence’ is the first example of that [initiative],” Limber said. The play is performed by the incarcerated women, in the theaters and in professional theaters in St. Louis. “This way, a wide range of audiences get to see these stories and get to experience these plays professionally produced.”

The production of ‘Run-On Sentence’ will continue through June 17 at The Chapel venue in St. Louis.

Lents said the play helps share new perspectives on prison populations through the stories of the women experiencing the prison system.

“[The incarcerated women] bring this unique, amazing sense of humor that I think is not always represented when we talk about prison populations or when we see them represented in the media,” Lents said. “They really gave me this new perspective on rehabilitation and rehabilitation through humor.”

Tibbetts explained why it’s important to “give a vehicle” for marginalized people to express themselves and their stories.

“The real draw of this particular work is the idea of community; it builds bridges for people that usually aren’t building community together, and I think that is a unique, powerful thing,” Tibbetts said.

Related Event

What: Professional Premiere of Run-On Sentence
When: 8 p.m. Friday, June 15, 2018
Where: The Chapel (6238 Alexander Dr., St. Louis, MO 63105)

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex HeuerEvie HemphillLara Hamdan and Caitlin Lally give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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Evie is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.
Lara is the Engagement Editor at St. Louis Public Radio.

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