Tag Archives: psychology in prison

What They’ll Remember-a play with music @ The Nuyorican Sundays-Dec4

Psychologist Erin Oakley wants to know why women with no criminal record kill. She receives permission for a six- week study, selects a sample, and begins to conduct group sessions inside a prison that might be anywhere USA. Bribing her subjects with food and time out from the usual grind, Rew Starr as the Dr, adroitly blends professional objectivity, with genuine concern.

The participants include: Michelle_ a mesmerizing Tadaa_ who trusts no one, especially white people. Charley, for whom Anita Purcell summons up enormous pathos, is scheduled to be executed, and wisecracking Taylor sends a real chill up the spine with Nardanie Devi ‘s casual depiction of the unintended consequence helping out a friend had. Rachel Navarro is terrific as fragile Heather, the sole white inmate, racked by guilt over having committed an infanticide she can’t even recall. Jessica Sylverster is deceptively low key as Bianca who shields herself with religion, yet whose anger when expressed, bring us solidly to her side. Lia Hollman is smooth as the reporter who offers some outside world connection to the events unfolding, and the media’s depiction of these women. Nellanna Mupier has to be stalwart as the guard retaining order over those she sees as unable to keep it together on the outside, but she too, is far more then a one -dimensional figure.

Now much in the news, female inmates were not such a popular topic pre Orange is the New Black , but, this intimate portrait portrays some of the same population we see on that show. As there, when we learn the stories, we feel sympathy and a sense of just how easy a line it can be to cross for seemingly ordinary women, especially if enmeshed in poverty, racism, exploitation, and abuse.

What They’ll Remember played regionally 15 years ago, and made its New York debut in 2014, however, it is is still Obie eligible, and a worthy contender. Eureka Lewis, a seasoned performer, writer and director “dusted off the script,” and it has returned for a limited Sunday evening run at the Nyurocian Poets Cafe through December 4th. She has said that she knew these women growing up in Detroit, and the reality of their voices, circumstances, and pain comes through vividly as conveyed by the talented cast. The musical interludes, and individual monologues are powerful moments, even so potent in places, one could hear that proverbial pin drop. Andre Chez Lewis, whose credits including Memphis, is the Composer, Musical Director and Accompanist; his mom joked that she got him cheap, and the audience benefits! The cast have extensive training, backgrounds and Impressive vocals_truly a dynamic group all around.

This is a multi- racial all female production-other then Chez- and deserves more widespread recognition, although it is selling out each Sunday. It is apparent that the rehearsal process allowed for exploration of issues around race, identity, the impact of incarceration on families, emotional regulation, stress from lack of support, and the need for education. The theme embedded in the title is what about our lives do others remember us by; is it our worst act, or how we make amends? The take away message is that attention and awareness must be paid to finding resilience and strength internally, so that women have alternatives when feel cornered, brutalized, exploited, helpless and unable to consider any other option then the ultimate act of violence.

More Info and tickets available here http://www.whattheyllremembernyc.com

What They’ll Remember” explores this question. A noted psychologist, convinces prison officials to allow her a six week study in a women’s correctional facility.  Each of the five inmates she’s selected for her sessions, are serving life sentences or on death row.  Unlike many prisoners, they don’t have criminal histories…not even a parking ticket. They were each essentially the “girl next door.” Something caused them to lose it.  The journey to discovering what that “something” was…proves to be both revealing, and heart wrenching