Prologue: Chorus of the Long Term Incarcerated
Scene 1 Returning Home, based on text by Monica Cosby
Monica Outside is in her room at a halfway house. She has recently been released after serving twenty years in prison and is having a difficult time adjusting to being outside. She thinks of the Monica she was – Monica Inside – and dialogues with herself. Monica Inside reads a letter from her daughter she received when she was serving time. Her daughter was so close to her then, even though they were separated by prison walls as they bonded over their shared love of the theater. Monica Outside cannot understand why her daughter is estranged from her now that she’s out. She misses her prison family. She remembers how the women supported each other. When contraband was found in one of her theater troupe member’s cell, another woman took responsibility for it so that the troupe member would not be sent to solitary. If that happened, the show could not go on. Monica Outside yearns for that solidarity.
Interlude I: Chorus of the Long Term Incarcerated
Scene 2 Orange Crush, based on text by Phil Hartsfield
Cellmates, Phil and Ed, hear the sounds of a Tac Team entering. These orange clad men with protector vests, elbow and knee pads, boots and gloves, helmet with face shields, solid wood batons, three foot long shields and spray cans of chemical agents are making a sweep. Phil and Ed prepare for this shakedown by pouring all liquids down the toilet, stuffing photos, papers and other memorabilia into suitcases which they shove under their beds so Orange Crush cannot easily destroy them. Orange Crush goes to a different block. Phil and Ed just dodged a bullet.
Another day, another Crush. Phil and Ed prepare again for the onslaught. This time, they’re crushed. They strip down for the search.
The next day, they hear the sound of metal clanging and heavy boots running. They’re back!
Interlude II: Chorus of the Long Term Incarcerated
Scene 3 Yard Time with the Animals, based on text by Joe Dole
Joe curses as he steps on birdshit in the prison yard. He is shocked when he hears a voice telling him to stop complaining. It’s Bird, who has nested on one of the prison walls, giving him a hard time. She tells him that she is free to do whatever she wants, including shitting wherever she likes whenever she feels the urge. Joe is envious of her and feels depressed that he is caged in prison.
The next day, Joe arrives at the yard to a frantic Bird. She hovers around her three babies who have fallen into the prison yard as they were learning to fly. Joe kneels down and gently approaches the babies. He scoops Birdie One up, the strongest baby, and tosses her into the air towards the fence. After several tries, Birdie One makes it to the top of the wall. Birdie Two, a weaker nestling, takes more effort. It flaps its wings desperately as Joe tosses it into the air, and finally makes it. Joe now turns to Birdie Three, the runt of the family. He scoops it up and keeps tossing it into the air as he jogs around the yard. Time is running out. He hears the guards coming for him. Yard time is over. “Joe, exit the yard,” the guards shout. Joe keeps running and tossing. He hears the electronic lock pop. As the door opens, Joe makes a final toss and Birdie Three flaps to freedom.
Interlude III Chorus of the Long Term Incarcerated
Scene 4 When the Time Hits You, based on text by Andrew Phillips
It’s 3am and Andrew is still awake. He was imprisoned at 18 and has just turned 21. A female guard walks by his cell and they strike up a conversation. At the end of the conversation, Andrew says, “Be safe.”
The next night, Andrew and the guard continue their conversation. He tells her, “Be safe.” And the next . . . and the next . . .
One night, as the guard starts her rounds, a chorus of other incarcerated men start hurling slurs at her. These slurs rise to a crescendo. Andrew starts laughing at this craziness. When he looks up, the guard is looking at him coldly. Staring at him, she shouts, “I hope all you mother fuckers die in here!” She strides out.
Andrew has a panic attack as he realizes, “I’m going to die in here.”
Every night, he used to ask himself, “How am I going to make it out and not die in here?” Now, he asks himself, “How do I live in a way that prevents me from dying in here? He thanks the guard for making the time hit him. He tells her, “Be safe.”
Interlude IV Chorus of the Long Term Incarcerated
Scene 5 I’m A Lifer, based on text by Mary L. Johnson
Mary is cleaning the wounds on her son Mike’s face; he has been beaten by cops. Several weeks later, Mary is cleaning Mike’s injuries, he has been beaten by cops, again. She is worried – Mike has been arrested seventeen times in six months. And he just turned eighteen. Mike tells her he is arrested for existing . . .
Mike has just been released from prison and rearrested. He tells his mother that the cops are retaliating for her complaint against them. The officer said, “If you don’t get out of town, your ass is mine. Nothing personal, just business.”
Mike is sentenced to life imprisonment. Mary continues to protest police brutality. She visits the men incarcerated on death row and brings them comfort. She too, is a lifer, waiting for her son to come out and get a chance to dance with his mother again.
Interlude V Chorus of the Long Term Incarcerated
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