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Fort Point Theatre Channel to Stage HIDDEN FACES OF COURAGE, 11/8-17

On With Living and Learning in collaboration with Fort Point Theatre Channel presents HIDDEN FACES OF COURAGE, conceived by Mary Driscoll and written with Members of On With Living and Learning. Directed by Tasia A. Jones with music by Allyssa Jones, the show runs November 8-10, 15-17, 2013 at The Boiler Room, 50 Melcher Street, Fort Point, Boston, Mass.

On With Living and Learning in collaboration with Fort Point Theatre Channel presentsHidden Faces of Courage. This new play combines monologues, spirituals, and rap to amplify the voices of women reentering the community from prison. As the women connect with one another, they explore and define their strengths and resiliency--and build enduring connections.

Hidden Faces of Courage lifts the veil that enshrouds an unseen group of mothers reentering their communities from prison. Portraying the struggles of innumerable women living in similar circumstances, the script was conceived by OWLL founder Mary Driscoll and created by her and seven formerly incarcerated women.

According to Driscoll, who is also a Fort Point Theatre Channel co-artistic director, she conceived of the play from workshops that blended writing skills with performance art to build biographical histories. OWLL weaves together personal testimony and research to explore social justice issues.

"Twelve years ago, I met LaVerne Halfkenny, who became my dear friend and the inspiration for Hidden Faces of Courage," says Driscoll. "Toward the end of her life, she asked me to tell her story with the hope that it would encourage other women who were facing the challenges of reentry."

The production is directed by Tasia A. Jones, with original music by Allyssa Jones.Hidden Faces of Courage will be performed by professional theatre artists who have worked in conjunction with the women whose stories are being told. The cast is composed of Shalaye Camillo, Theresa Chiasson, Alissa Cordeiro, Chris Everett, Maria Hendricks, Johnnie McQuarley, Dayenne C. Walters, and Amy S. West.

A notable feature of the production is the music of Allyssa Jones, a critically acclaimed vocalist, composer, and educator. Just as the script emerged as a collaboration among the OWLL women, Jones worked with the actors in creating the score. Each woman fashioned a "musical aura" for herself, and Jones then wove these themes into the play's soundscape.

Rick Dorff's set, reflecting his background as installation artist, evokes the history, present, and future of previously incarcerated mothers and their children. His multilayered set is integrated into the nontraditional venue of The Boiler Room, a new art space converted from a boiler room in Fort Point, Boston. Chris Bocchiaro's lighting design defines environments and illuminates the emotional journey from reentry to home.

As Driscoll points out, not only are the voices of previously incarcerated mothers rarely heard in discussions of prison reform, but they are also notably absent in the artistic world--a world that can engage a broader community in reform and foster greater understanding between the individual and diverse audiences. That is what OWLL does, through workshops and through work that challenges viewers' expectations and fosters greater understanding.

"My parents brought me to the play," wrote an 11-year-old boy from Lexington after viewing an early workshop performance of Hidden Faces of Courage. "I thought the play's message was clear and the play was very deep. I learned that people out of jail aren't really those bad guys in the movies. They are normal but they are just in a bad predicament."

On with Living and learning, Inc., works with women who are transitioning from marginalization to productive participation in their communities. OWLL's skill-based program integrates the principles of occupational therapy with performing art strategies. OWLL activities reflect critically on the context of participants' life experiences, culture, and society, and they inform the development of an advocacy performance that extends and amplifies the impact of the workshops to promote social change.

Fort Point Theatre Channelis dedicated to creating and sustaining new configurations of the performing arts. We bring together an ensemble of artists from the worlds of theater, music, visual arts, and everything in between as a forum for collaborative expression while enriching the Fort Point community, Boston, and beyond.

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