Found in this week's edition of
The Uses of Joy
When Conspire Theatre helps incarcerated women, it's all in the game
by Katherine Catmull
I used to work in an office with a rule about when we could take lunch, which was a constant source of annoyance to me. What if I get busy and don't notice the time till 2 p.m.? Get your laws off my ham sandwich, oppressor!
I would not do so well in prison. In the women's minimum security unit of the Travis County Correctional Complex in Del Valle, razor wire loops-the-loop along chain-link fences, keeping you in, keeping everything you love out. When prisoners walk between buildings, they must keep their hands behind their backs and stay just outside of one of the long red stripes painted on the sidewalk. And of course, that's the least of the structures and strictures of life for incarcerated women.
That's what makes what Conspire Theatre brings to the prison so odd.
It looks like a classroom, any classroom: cinder block walls, fluorescent lights, a whiteboard. (As we suspected in junior high: Classrooms and prisons have a lot in common.) Ten women enter, some in their 30s or 40s, most younger, all wearing prison uniforms of wide gray and khaki stripes. Prisoners still wear stripes – who knew.