Voices Inside/Out Rocks Out NYC

On Monday, March 24th, Voices Inside/Out presented five short inmate-authored plays at the beautiful Engelman Recital Hall of Baruch Performing Arts Center in Manhattan. What a wonderful night where the audience was treated to outstanding work, including Derek Trumbo’s Convictionthe 2013 Pen Prison Writing Contest winner for Drama.


Thanks to our fab directors: Axel Alvin, Mark Armstrong, Reginald L. Douglas, Erica Gould & Kate Pines. And our wonderful actors include Noelia Antweiler, Tyler Bellmon, Juan Castano, Kwaku Driskell, Luke Forbes, Christopher Livingston, Clinton Lowe, Jamil A.C. Mangan, Michael Markham, Tobias Segal, Sarah Sokolovic, chandra thomas, Mark McCullough Thomas & Haley Zega.

And, we appreciate the support of the new audience members as well as our returning fans. The reading benefits our 2014 Playwright Residency at Northpoint Training Center, a medium security prison near Danville, KY. We announced last night that this year’s playwright will be Crystal Skillman.

If you would like to support this work, please consider making a tax-deductible donation here.


Reflections with Mel Nieves

Our third annual Reflections event will be held Monday, September 23rd at Davenport Studios in Manhattan. Playwright Mel Nieves (who is pictured in the poster by Chris Kateff) will share his experience as the 2013 Voices Inside/Out Playwright-in-Residence at Northpoint Training Center outside Danville, Kentucky. You’ll also hear the work of some of the participating inmates — their powerful, moving stories about life on both sides of the bars. And you’ll have a chance to ask questions about arts education in prison. Come and learn more about our exciting program and celebrate another grand year.

Mel Work 04_smaller

The event is free and open to the public. Seating, though, is limited. Reserve your tickets at voicesinsideout.eventbrite.com. Doors open at 6:45 pm, and the event begins at 7:00 pm.

“You Make Us Feel Like We Matter”

Every year, Pioneer Playhouse takes one of its productions to Northpoint Training Center, the medium security prison where Voices Inside and Voices Inside/Out work. In fact, the prison playwriting program began after a production of Liz Orndorff‘s The Dillinger Dilemma was done at the prison in 2010, and the inmates were then invited to learn how to write a play.

On Monday, Tamed by Voices Inside/Out 2012 Resident Playwright Holly Hepp-Galván  was performed for the inmate population at Northpoint. (Holly scored the play commission while working at the prison last summer!) Tamed is an updated version of Taming of the Shrew where Kate is a b-girl from Brooklyn and Petruchio is Woodchuck Man, based on Turtleman from Animal Planet’s show Call of the Wildman. Holly is pictured with the real-life Turtleman below.
Holly Hepp-Galvan and Turtleman
Here’s Holly’s account of Monday night’s performance and its reception at Northpoint. What a fantastic night.
First of all to set the scene:  We all (cast, crew, set, sound, etc) arrived at Northpoint in a blinding rainstorm.  And that’s no exaggeration!  Even locals couldn’t believe the force of this storm.  Thunder, lightning, and TORRENTS of rain that just wouldn’t let up.  As soon as we all assembled in the little holding room there was a deafening crack of thunder that made the whole building jump.  We were then informed that lightning had hit the metal fence and knocked out the computers.  No computers meant no metal doors could be opened.  We would all have to walk through the yard.
Well the poor actors were in full costume and few of us had umbrellas.  We all got soaked to the skin.  It was just CRAZY rain.
I was concerned that the men might not want to venture out, but I needn’t have worried.  They soon came pouring in.  They filled every seat in every pew.  It was completely packed with only standing room at the back.
We started right on time and the actors were amazing.  Even soaking wet, they gave such an energetic and thrilling performance.  The whole room was laughing and cheering.  They gave them a standing ovation at the end.
We then had a lively talk-back where the inmates asked questions.  (Oh and I forgot to mention that Rob – one of the members of the playwriting circle – gave a nice overview of “Shrew” before we started!)  Then afterwards we were all swarmed by well-wishers.  They all wanted to tell us how much they’d enjoyed it.  One man held both of my hands and told me, “Thank you, thank you, thank you. You make us feel like we matter.”
I can’t give enough credit to Robby Henson (of Pioneer Playhouse) for bringing the show in (on top of everything else!) and to all the actors who performed in that tiny space with their wet costumes sticking to their skin.  It was just a joyful, joyful experience.
And as we exited, the rain – which had continued to pound us throughout the entire performance – somehow stopped and the sun came out.  We all went happily back to the Playhouse and ate fried chicken and biscuits until we wanted to burst.

Voices Inside/Out Wows New York

Voices Inside/Out

The cast, directors, and team behind Voices Inside/Out. Photo by Chris Kateff.

On April 1, Voices Inside/Out held its third annual reading of inmate-authored short plays at Soho Playhouse.  The plays ranged from comedy (What happens when cookie’s are banned in a prison chowhall?) to drama (A true story based on one inmate’s 63 months in solitary confinement). And the rave reviews are in:

“One of the finest examples of how excellent theater combined with extraordinary talent can become a source of great good.” — Audience member

“The Voices Inside/Out experience reminds me that everyone’s voice is important, regardless of your circumstance, status in society, etc.  We all have a story and they are uniquely beautiful!  So thank you for the opportunity to express these wonderful stories and bring them to live with some amazing artists!” — Actor

“It’s important, brave work that ultimately, facilitates healing.” –– Audience member

Jonathan Ames hosted the event for the second year in a row. And it was announced that Mel Nieves (pictured far right, front row) will be the 2013 Playwright-in-Residence at Northpoint Training Center. Mel will spend eight days in Kentucky this June and teach master classes to the inmates in the pioneering playwriting program at the medium security all-male prison.

Mel Nieves is an Actor/Playwright/Teaching-Artist and long time member of the award winning LAByrinth Theater Company. He is a graduate of the William Esper Studios. He is a two time Metlife Foundation “Nuestra Voces” Playwrighting finalist. As an actor he’s appeared in Bent, Short Eyes, most recently Mando Alvarado’s Sangre for SummerStages and the feature film The Children of Hip Hop written and directed by Antonio Dela Cruz. As a playwright his work has been seen in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago works include, By The Dawn’s Early Light: Midnight Mass & Los Embrujados, W.A.C. Iraq and In Da Boogie Down.

Thank you to the actors, directors and audience members who supported Voices Inside/Out, and we look forward to seeing you in the near future.

Voices Inside/Out Hosts ‘Reflections’ and Unveils New Poster

On Monday, October 1, 2012, dozens of people attended Voices Inside/Out’s REFLECTIONS, an evening celebrating Holly Hepp-Galván‘s 2012 playwriting residency at Northpoint Training Center, a medium security prison near Burgin, KY. The event was held at Davenport Studios in midtown Manhattan.

Jerry Matz and Holly Hepp-Galván

The evening began with Synge Maher, Voices Inside/Out’s Artistic Director, talking about the start of the program, and how she was so moved by acting in some of the inmate-authored plays in 2010 that she knew the world needed to experience their work. Holly, then, spoke about her time at Northpoint, the work created during her residency, and how spending the week working with the prisoner-playwrights has affected her writing since that time. Actors read scenes and writing exercises created by five of the inmates in the program. A big thank you to Tino Christopher, Jerry Matz and Mac Rogers for their participation.

The evening ended with a Q&A with Holly, Mac (the 2011 resident playwright), Synge and Lanie Zipoy, Voices Inside/Out’s Producing Director as well as the unveiling of this year’s poster featuring Holly (pictured below).

Voices Inside/Out poster

2012 Resident Playwright Announced

Voices Inside/Out supports the theater arts program at Northpoint Training Center, a medium security prison in Burgin, Kentucky, through mounting public readings of the inmates’ work and maintaining a playwriting residency at the prison each summer.

We are thrilled to announce that Holly Hepp-Galvån is the 2012 Resident Playwright. Selected from more than 80 applicants, Holly will spend eight days at Northpoint in July. While there, she will teach master classes, critique the inmates’ work and share her own experiences as a professional playwright with the prisoner-playwrights. The residency includes a $2,000 stipend, airfare, lodging, per diem, and car rental.

Holly Hepp-GalvanHolly Hepp-Galván is currently enrolled in the MFA in Playwriting program at Hunter College with Playwright-in-Residence, Tina Howe. She will graduate in May 2012. At Hunter, she has been the recipient of the Rita and Burton Goldberg
Award for her trilogy, “Departures” in 2009 and has won the Irv Zarkower award twice, for “Oddities” in 2010 and “Andrea’s Esophagus” in 2011.

Recent workshops and productions include “Oddities” produced by Communicable Arts at the Cell Theatre, “Blank Slate” at One Woman Standing at Emerging Artists Theatre (EAT), and “Sprites” which was commissioned by Pollyanna Children’s Theatre and Ballet Austin and will premiere at the Long Center in Austin, Texas in October 2012.

In addition, Holly has been teaching theatre arts, writing and performance since 1993. She was director of the Performing Arts School at Zachary Scott Theatre Center from 1994-95, and for the past ten years has been Adjunct Professor of Communication and Theatre Arts at both the College of Mount Saint Vincent and Manhattan College in Riverdale, New York.

“Writing humanizes and allows for new perspectives in a way that few things can.” — Holly Hepp-Galvån