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Theatre stages ‘Dead Man Walking’

April 25, 2012 12:00AM

“Dead Man Walking,” a powerful play by Tim Robbins, based on a book by Sister Helen Prejean, will open in the Pittsburg State University Theatre on April 26.

The production, directed by Kristy Magee, recounts Sister Helen Prejean’s journey as she befriends a convicted murderer in the days before his execution. According to Magee, the play asks the audience to evaluate the roles that compassion, forgiveness, and freedom play in today's justice system, and ultimately, in each person’s life.

The book was made into a film and was nominated for several Academy Awards in 1996, including Susan Sarandon for Best Actress for her portrayal of Sister Helen Prejean.

“I am humbled to have an unbelievable cast of 17 ensemble members, an amazing stage manager and production staff, and an incredibly talented design and technical crew consisting of faculty and student designers,” Magee said of the PSU production.

The PSU Theatre production is actually the final piece of an interdisciplinary campus project and the culmination of two years of work by Magee. More than 10 classes from across campus have been involved, Magee said. These include Pitt State Theatre and the Department of Communication, Music, Social Work Plus, Performing Arts and Lecture Series, Social Work and the Court Process, Macro Projects, Photo-documentary, Ethics in Mass Communication, Media Analysis, Poetry, and Women’s Studies.

The activities associated with the project included an appearance by Sister Helen Prejean as part of the Performing Arts and Lecture Series and a lecture by Rob Warden, an award-winning legal affairs journalist and executive director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at the Northwestern University School of Law.

“The students participating in these classes and discussions have been able to research the subject of capital punishment, debate about it, or apply it to their own majors in very unique ways,” Magee said.

Evening performances of “Dead Man Walking” will be at 8 p.m. on April 26-29. There will also be two matinee performances, at 2 p.m. on April 28 & 29. Tickets are $10 for the general public and $6 for persons under 17 or over 65. PSU students are admitted without charge with a PSU photo ID. Tickets may be obtained at the PSU Ticket Office in the Overman Student Center, 620-235-4796, or at the door beginning 30 minutes prior to the curtain.

©2012 Pittsburg State University