Prison Playwrights

Prison time can be the strangest interval in a long life: it is experienced, year by year, as a slow-burning hell on earth, often revalued later as productive, enlightening, redemptive turn-around time. Chris Hedges has documented an old story of transformation in a true story of today. It’s titled Our Class: 30 men in New Jersey’s Rahway State Prison find themselves writing a stage play together, with the dramatic lingo of life on the street, and behind bars. The backstory includes writers like Oscar Wilde, Malcolm X, Jack London, who found themselves, literally and artistically, in prison, like the great Dostoevsky, who called his Siberian prison The House of the Dead, and wrote an immortal masterpiece about it.

Lives lost and found in prison are the sound and substance of this radio hour. Chris Hedges is our guest, with a book “Our Class,” about a course he taught at the famous Rahway State Prison in New Jersey, Hurricane Carter’s prison once upon a time. We’re talking about a break in Hedges’ journalistic life that got him ordained finally as a Christian minister, 30 years late. But for people who think about a coming de-carceration of American life, there’s fire and light here from real experience and from two of Hedges’ talented, take-charge students. For listeners who know Chris Hedges as a war correspondent and a war-hater for the book War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning, here’s the story of his turn to prison as a teacher/professor and then as the creator of a prison theater company.

Guest List
Chris Hedges
Lawrence Bell
Boris Franklin

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