Sarah Shourd wrote and directs "The Box", an immersive theatrical play that is presented at Eastern State Penitentiary.

The Box at Eastern State Penitentiary

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Sarah Shourd wrote and directs “The Box”, an immersive theatrical play that is presented at Eastern State Penitentiary.

Prison-based theater is not a new thing. Ask Philadelphia’s one-time member of The Roots, Dice Raw, who under his real name, Karl Jenkins, has penned several plays and musicals that touch upon the subject of mass incarceration such as “The Last Jimmy”. Philadelphia has a rich history of premiering works dedicated to the pains of the prison industrial complex. With that, and at the same time that Eastern State Penitentiary is back in action as an Art Museum area neighborhood tourist spot after a period of inaction, “The Box”, a promised “piece of transformational theater that asks the audience to re-examine long-held notions of punishment and solitary confinement” makes its debut this weekend (August 13 and 14) at Eastern State Penitentiary.

The Box at Eastern State Penitentiary

Shown in partnership with the Abolitionist Law Center, and presented by The Pulitzer Center, The End of Isolation Tour and The BOX promises a theatrical presentation sure to strike fear into anyone’s heart whose loved ones are incarcerated, rightly or wrongly.

“Underscoring both the horror of solitary confinement and the humanity of people subjected to it, employing stories inspired by true events to bring awareness to what is occurring in correctional institutions across the country,” what makes “The Box” lived in and incendiary is the fact that it was written and by directed by Sarah Shourd.

The Box at Eastern State Penitentiary
Sarah Shourd

Shourd’s backstory is that she is a journalist for the New York Times, Reuters, the Daily Beast and Salon who was held in solitary confinement for 400 plus days while on a hiking vacation around the popular tourist spot, Ahmad Awa, in Iraqi Kurdistan. Shourd’s solitary confinement allowed her empathy and sympathy for those captured and imprisoned as such in America, and from there, and with the stories of 75 fellow prison survivors and their testimonies, “The Box” was born. It premiered at Z Space in San Francisco in 2016 and was portrayed on stages across the United States.

Learn about Shourd, The Box, and get tickets here

The Box at Eastern State Penitentiary

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