Felon: An American Washi Tale
By Reginald Dwayne Betts
Directed by Elise Thoron
Presented by the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University
MARCH 2 - MARCH 4, 2023
VENUE Berlind Theater
Alone in solitary confinement, a teenager called out to the men in the hole with him: “Somebody, send me a book!” Moments later, Dudley Randall’s The Black Poets slid under his cell door. Those pages were the start of the teen’s transformation into a poet, lawyer, and promoter of the rights of prisoners. Now, 23 years after his release from prison, Reginald Dwayne Betts explores the experience and consequences of his incarceration in a compelling solo theater show based on his poetry collection, Felon. Betts, who recently received a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, advocates for literacy in prisons and is the founding director of the nonprofit organization Freedom Reads, which delivers books to inmates and brings contemporary writers and artists together with incarcerated audiences. The theater piece is a meditation on life after prison, criminal justice, art-making and community.
Presented by the Program in Theater at Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts in partnership with McCarter Theatre and cosponsored by the Department of Art and Archaeology, the Office of the Vice President for Campus Life, the Princeton University Center for Human Values, School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University Library, and the Humanities Council.
On March 2 the second half of the evening will be a panel discussion around legal and ethical questions embedded in the play in collaboration with Princeton’s Center for Human Values.
On March 3 the second half of the evening will be a call to action conversation and reception led by Students for Prison Education, Abolition and Reform (SPEAR), and faculty and staff of The Prison Teaching Initiative (PTI).
On March 4 a joyful celebration follows the performance marking the anniversary of Dwayne Betts’ release from prison, including the Camden Youth Jazz Band and special guests.
On View Jan 30 - March 5: Washitales, an exhibition of works made with traditional Japanese washi paper by visual art and Felon set designer Kyoko Ibe is on view at the Hurley Gallery at the Lewis Arts complex, open daily 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. An artists’ talk and launch of a new book documenting the years-long collaborations between Kyoko Ibe and Felon director Elise Thoron, The Way of Washi Tales, will be held February 23 at 6PM in the Hurley Gallery.
More information on the Felon project at Princeton.
Tickets & Details
All performances are open to the public. Tickets for Felon are $12 in advance of show dates, $17 purchased the day of performances at the ticket office, and free for Princeton students.
Felon is a special featured event in Partnership with Princeton University. (It is not eligible for McCarter's Choice Pass.)
Berlind Theatre is an accessible venue with wheelchair and companion seating available. The performance on Thursday, March 2nd, will be open captioned. An assistive listening system is available and headphones can be requested from ushers. Visit our Venues and Studios section for accessibility information at our various locations, including Berlind Theatre. Attendees in need of other access accommodations are invited to contact the Lewis Center at 609-258-5262 or email LewisCenter@princeton.edu at least one week in advance of the event date.
COVID-19 Guidance + Updates
Per Princeton University policy, all visitors are expected to be either fully vaccinated, have recently received and be prepared to show proof of a negative COVID test (via PCR within 72 hours or via rapid antigen within 8 hours of the scheduled visit), or agree to wear a face covering when indoors and around others.
Jane Cox and Tess James
This performance is not Choice Pass eligible.