An outdoor, site-specific dance honoring women with incarcerated loved ones
San Francisco’s Flyaway Productions announced the East Coast premiere of THE WAIT ROOM, a performance installation that exposes the physical, psychic, and emotional burden of incarceration for women with imprisoned loved ones. Choreography is by Jo Kreiter, recipient of a 2019 Guggenheim Fellowship and the first choreographer named as a Robert Rauschenberg Foundation 2017 Artist as Activist Fellow. Four performances will take place from September 20-22, in Louis Engel Park, an outdoor site next to Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining.
The Sing Sing Prison Museum, in partnership with Bethany Arts Center, is presenting this East Coast premiere. Composer Pamela Z has translated the oral histories of several women with families fractured by incarceration into a score informing the choreography of Flyaway Artistic Director Jo Kreiter. Additional collaborators include lighting designer Jack Beuttler and costume designer Jamielyn Duggan. The project was derived in partnership with Oakland-based Essie Justice Group, an organization of women taking on the injustices of mass incarceration.
“One in four women and nearly one in two black women in the U.S. has at one point had a family member in prison,” said Kreiter. “I am one of these women.” Continued Kreiter:
“The Wait Room is the most personal work I’ve undertaken since founding Flyaway Productions in 1996. The piece is designed to invoke the balancing act women must pull off as wives and mothers and daughters. The set engages instability as a metaphor for women’s lives under secondary incarceration. With the aid of Essie Justice Group, The Wait Room will frame the conversation around women not just as passive victims of incarceration by proximity, but as women whose collusion is called upon by the very system that is destabilizing their lives.
The first choreographer to be named a Rauschenberg Foundation Artist-as-Activist Fellow, Kreiter has received significant funding to develop The Wait Room and take it on the road. Before its presentation next to Sing Sing Correctional Facility in September, The Wait Room premiered in April in San Francisco and was repeated in Richmond, California, May 17 and 18, in partnership with the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts. The event took place inside the “Iron Triangle,” in an empty lot across from the Center.
Kreiter is planning to develop two additional large-scale public art performances addressing the devastating effects of mass incarceration. Meet Us Quickly with Your Mercy, a residency project with MoAD, Bend the Arc and Prison Renaissance, is slated to premiere in 2020. The following year, Flyaway Productions will mount a new dance inspired by restorative justice. These three works, beginning with The Wait Room, are titled The Decarceration Trilogy: Dismantling the Prison Industrial Complex One Dance at a Time.
The world premiere of The Wait Room was supported by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation; New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Andrew Mellon Foundation; the Zellerbach Foundation; Grants for the Arts; the National Endowment for the Arts; the California Arts Council; and Pacific Eagle and Eaton Workshop, owner of the lot at 1125 Market Street that is the future site of Eaton SF, a purpose-driven global company and creative lab founded by Katherine Lo.
Dates: September 20-22 (Friday at 8 PM; Saturday at 3 PM & 8 PM; Sunday at 3 PM)
Partners: Presented by the Sing Sing Prison Museum at Louis Engel Park, 185 Westerly Road
(just outside the walls of Sing Sing Correctional Facility, Ossining, NY)
Tickets: $25 suggested (free admission to families of incarcerated individuals and returning citizens)
Reservations at Museum phone: 914.236.5407 or https://thewaitroom.eventbrite.ca
You can view a trailer for the performance at https://vimeo.com/337912891.