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Pulitzer Center Update June 8, 2021

Today at 4: Details on The BOX Bus Rolling Your Way!

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Image of actors in multi-level prison cells on a stage during a performance of The BOX.
The BOX, a play about solitary confinement, performed at San Francisco’s Z Space in 2016. Image by Todd Sanchioni. United States, 2019.

"Ending Isolation, in Prisons and Among Ourselves"

I hope you’ll join us at 4pm EDT today to hear about an exciting new initiative that we’re launching in September: a national tour of The BOX, Sarah Shourd’s searing play on solitary confinement.

The Pulitzer Center has always prized the use of the arts as a means of engaging audiences with the issues we cover, but the End of Isolation Tour, which Shourd is organizing, takes us to a whole new level. The cast and crew, several of them formerly incarcerated individuals, will be traveling from city to city in a converted school bus, staging pop-up performances and working closely with community activists on criminal justice issues in every city they visit.

At today’s event you’ll learn more—from Shourd herself; from Dameion Brown, one of The BOX performers; and from Jon Comstock, the leader of decARcerate Arkansas, representing one of the states where performances are planned this fall. You’ll also hear from former California state Sen. Mark Leno, who says that Bay Area performances of The BOX helped inspire his state’s ban on the use of solitary confinement for juveniles.

Shourd came to this work after being subjected to solitary confinement for 410 days in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison. People who had experienced incarceration in the United States were hugely important to her own recovery from the Iran ordeal, Shourd says. Ending similarly inhumane practices in the U.S. is a prime goal of the End of Isolation Tour—as is using live theater to help all of us emerge from the isolation we’ve experienced ourselves, through a pandemic lasting more than a year.

Tour stops planned for this fall include Detroit, St. Louis, Fayetteville, Arkansas, and New Orleans. Join us today to learn how you can get involved—in those communities and in the performances we’re planning for an even bigger tour next spring. With your help, our converted school bus will be rolling your way soon!

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In 2020 we announced an innovative partnership with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and its publication Science, supporting the magazine’s reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic for the entirety of the year. Last week, after BuzzFeed News published the entire database of emails to and from Dr. Anthony Fauci, obtained via FOIA, we learned that our reporting was influential in the early days of the pandemic. Grantee Jon Cohen’s piece on the virus’s genome was shared by Fauci extensively, including with officials and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The series was broadly impactful with Johns Hopkins’ Global Health NOW, which commented, “[The Pulitzer Center] helped ensure coverage of a wide array of non-COVID global health issues continued during the pandemic while also helping sources like Science magazine remove their paywall on COVID coverage—a move we appreciated greatly, as we try hard to stick to open sources.”


This message first appeared in the June 8, 2021 edition of the Pulitzer Center weekly newsletter. Subscribe today.

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