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prison industrial complex

The Peculiar Patriot (OCT 17-28) is amazing audiences throughout its Boston debut. Liza Jessie Peterson’s poetry and command of the stage communicate a story beyond the walls of any theatre and imparts on us a story often hidden below the surface. As we continue discussing mass incarceration, both nationally and within our state, it was important to discuss how ArtsEmerson and Emerson College are working to break down barriers and foster community. The Emerson Prison Initiative,…

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  In interviews, Liza Jessie Peterson often talks about The Peculiar Patriot as a love story. Her heroine, she points out, was modeled on the people she would see waiting in long lines in the middle of the night on Manhattan’s Columbus Circle for the buses that were going to take them to see their incarcerated loved ones in upstate New York prisons. They would travel through the night, some as much as eight hours,…

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The United States is the world’s leader in incarceration, with more than 2.2 million people in the nation’s prisons and jails–that’s 716 out of every 100,000 citizens behind bars. In fact, as ArtsEmerson’s Artistic Director David Dower notes, most states, including Massachusetts “have a higher rate of incarceration than nearly every developed nation on the planet,” including countries that have experienced major social turbulences in the 20th century, like former Soviet Republics and South Africa…

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What would it be like to work on a show for almost two decades before finally performing it? That is exactly what writer and performer Liza Jessie Peterson did for her show The Peculiar Patriot. This one-woman story follows Peterson’s character, Betsy LaQuanda Ross, who spends her time visiting and unearthing the secrets of penitentiaries in the United States. Peterson is bringing her piece to ArtsEmerson this October, however this show was initially conceptualized in 2003…

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