"The human VOICE is the organ of the Soul."
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
WHO WE ARE
Finding your Voice
Our lives are made up of more than just waking up, working, and sleeping. To fully feel human, we must find our passion. We must find out what drives us. We must find
out who we truly are, or in other words:
We must find our voice.
Through storytelling, improv, work with Shakespearean text, acting, and performance, participants with Voices UnCaged will do just that. We work with incarcerated individuals around the country and have been in residence at Groveland Correctional Facility in Western New York every summer since 2016.
The program began in 2015 as a pilot program at Arkansas Community Corrections. After receiving a Creative Community Fellowship from National Arts Strategies, the program began a partnership with Shake on the Lake Shakespeare. Since then, Voices UnCaged has been to conferences, given presentations and lectures at universities around the country, and recieved support from the New York State Council on the Arts.
To quote Arkansas State Senator Joyce Elliot, our corrections system in America has become a "revolving door" of recidivism. The United States Prison Industrial Complex has been created to benefit a culture that embraces unbridled economic growth by targeting black and brown people, as well as people living below the poverty line. Political activist,
Angela Davis, put it best in her essay, Masked Racism: Reflections on the Prison Industrial Complex.*
"Imprisonment has become the response of first resort to far too many of the social problems that burden people who are ensconced in poverty. These problems often are veiled by being conveniently grouped together under the category "crime" and by the automatic attribution of criminal behavior to people of color. Homelessness, unemployment, drug addiction, mental illness, and illiteracy are only a few of the problems that disappear from public view when the human beings contending with them are relegated to cages."**
How can we break the cycle? How can we dismantle the "revolving door?" One way is through a commitment to Understanding. Through the creation of art, we are able to put a magnifying glass up to the truths that live in our hearts and in society. It is our mission to engage with our participants in the process of examining those truths through the art of theatre. It is our hope that through this process we can increase our understanding of ourselves as well as invite others to examine their hearts to understand that we all deserve a voice.
Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.