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Focus on Justice: Sarah Shourd, Rhodessa Jones and the Healing Work of Theater

Event Date:

June 23, 2020 | 2:00 PM EDT
United States Penitentiary sign Alcatraz. Image by Elisa Day / Shutterstock. United States, 2019.

A historic performance of The Box, a piece of transformational theater based on a journalist’s...


From the midst of a pandemic where Black people are dying at much higher rates than the rest of the population into a moment of national uprising against systemic racism in America, Pulitzer Center grantee and playwright Sarah Shourd and Rhodessa Jones, director of The Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women, delve into the role of the artist and the power of theatre to transform, heal and celebrate the stories of incarcerated people.

Join their conversation on Tuesday, June 23, 2020, as part of the Talks @ Pulitzer Focus on Justice online series.

They bring to this conversation their combined decades of experience working inside prisons and with the movement to end mass incarceration.

Jones also shares why this moment is different, the historic trauma of Black women in America and how women can use art to save their own lives.

Shourd is an award-winning journalist, artist and former Stanford John S. Knight Fellow based in Oakland, California. For the last 10 years she has worked to uncover the realities of mass incarceration and solitary confinement for audiences after spending a year as a political hostage in Iran. She is the author of two books, a graphic novel and a play, and her journalism has been published by The New York Times, Mother Jones, San Francisco Chronicle and many more. Her play, The BOX, premiered in San Francisco in 2016 and went on to be performed in the old prison penitentiary on Alcatraz Island. For more information please visit:

As director of The Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women, Jones has centered the experiences of incarcerated women in story-telling and explored the role of theater in reducing recidivism rates. She has decades of experience creating theatre inside prisons. In addition to extensive workshops and productions in the United States, Jones has led The Medea Project in South African prisons, and was recognized as an Arts Envoy by the U.S. Embassy in South Africa in 2012.

This webinar provides the backdrop to the forthcoming Pulitzer Center-supported virtual performance of Shourd's award-winning play, The BOX, based on true stories of individuals in solitary confinement in U.S. prisons.

The Pulitzer Center's reporting and educational outreach on mass incarceration and related justice issues is supported by the Art for Justice Fund and other donors. The Art for Justice Fund was created by Agnes Gund in partnership with the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.

Register today!


Criminal Justice


Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice