Thanks to a generous matching grant from The Mid-America Arts Alliance and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church we were able to bring The Prison Story Project back to men incarcerated at the Randall L. Williams Correction Center in Pine Bluff, AR this past year. Over the course of the past year we presented 2 staged readings of their previous work and conducted creative writing/storytelling workshops twice over a two-day period during that same time.

Here’s some of what the men had to say in follow-up letters they sent to us afterwards:

“The reading was exceedingly brilliant.”

“Thank you guys for the wonderful time. It really opened opened up a lot of feelings and insight…Hearing from the women in the staged reading gives insight to their thoughts and emotions.”

“What will stick with me the most from this experience is the release of a lot of baggage and emotions that needed to be released – I hope and pray for the day to be able to share my writing with my family.”

“I had forgot how much I enjoyed poetry. You gave that back to me, too! It is a wonderful gift, thank you! There’s no way to repay you for all you’ve done. You helped free my soul. So know this for sure – my life has been changed for the better. I would say y’all were word doctors.”

“Your coming was a breath of clean air for a lot of drowning men. Y’all were like having real friends come visit. Y’all gave a voice to men that other wise never would have had one! Y’all brought hope. Y’all were better than any psychiatrist could have done for a lot of people.”

“I really enjoyed writing with y’all and sharing some of my story with you. It means a lot to me and all the other guys to know someone out there actually cares.”

“I do know that we (all of us) will not be forgotten as ‘just in passing’ because of your commitment and passion. I truly believe a special bond was shared in that room. Funny how I can look at these same individuals who I’ve seen every day and now when we see one another there is this “knowing”. Even if we don’t say a word. Super Cool! I truly loved what we were able to do and only wish it could have lasted a while longer.”

“I want you to know that I really enjoyed participating in the prison project and the only thing that could have made it better was more time! Each time I see one of the other guys who shared in the writing circle I still feel a certain special “bond” because I know we all took a journey together to another place in time. We all got to “escape” for a couple days. What you do is pretty damn cool and I am truly honored to be a part of it.”

A special thanks to:
Our teaching team: Jane Blunschi, Matt Henrikson, Katie Nichol
Our co-facilitators: Kathy McGregor & Suzanne Stoner
Our theatre directors: Jonny Schremmer, Troy Schremmer, with assistance from Kholoud Sawaf
Our actors: Justin Scheuer, Jason Shipman, Troy Schremmer, Matt Henrikson, Brandon Butler, Bryce Kemph