NOT ABOUT NIGHTINGALES Audience Engagement Events Announced
The current state of criminal justice and incarceration in Illinois will be discussed following two performances of Not About Nightingales - the play Tennessee Williams wrote in response to a real-life 1938 atrocity in which four inmates of a Philadelphia prison were literally roasted to death. The first of the two post-show discussions will follow the Sunday, April 30 3:00 pm matinee and will feature guest speakers from the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform: Dr. David Olson, Professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology Department at Loyola University Chicago; and Pamela Rodriguez, President of Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities, a statewide provider of prison diversion and community reentry services. The second discussion will follow the Thursday May 18 7:30 pm performance and will welcome Jennifer Vollen-Katz, Executive Director of The John Howard Association of Illinois, which monitors the conditions and programming in all Illinois correctional facilities, as well as helping to create and implement operational and policy reform system wide.
Both post-show discussions will be moderated by Assistant Director Jack Bourgeois. The talks are open to the public and there is no charge for those who would like to attend the talks only, which will begin at approximately 5:30 pm on Sunday April 30and 10:00 pm on Thursday, May 18. Reservations are not necessary for the talks only. Regular ticket prices apply to the performances.
Not About Nightingales, written in 1938, is an early Tennessee Williams play that showcases the development of his powerful voice. Deemed too controversial at the time of its writing due to the fact the play humanizes prisoners, some of which are African-American, Hispanic and homosexual, Not About Nightingales was not produced until 1998 by the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain and Redgrave Moving Theatre in London before moving to the Alley Theatre in Houston later that year. In 1999, it received its Broadway debut at the Circle in the Square Theatre, where it received six Tony nominations, including Best Play, Best Actor, Best Director, and winning for Best Scenic Design.
The play's action revolves around the tyrannical prison warden Boss Whalen's inhumane treatment of the inmates in his island prison. Deciding they have had enough, and inspired by their de facto leader Butch, the inmates of Hall C fight back by waging a hunger strike. When it garners media attention, Boss Whalen responds with torture. All the while, Whalen's inmate assistant Jim and new secretary Eva struggle with the moral dilemma of either exposing the strike and losing their jobs or assisting Whalen in keeping it under wraps.
Pamela Rodriguez (April 30) is president of TASC (Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities), a statewide provider of alternatives to incarceration and community reentry services. In addition to leading TASC's services for courts, corrections, and child welfare systems, Ms. Rodriguez directs TASC's public policy and international consulting services. She serves on the Governor's Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform; the oversight board of Redeploy Illinois, which supports community-based alternatives to incarceration for youth; the Illinois Juvenile Justice Leadership Council; the advisory board of the Illinois Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health and Criminal Justice; and the Cook County Commission on Social Innovation. Recognized as an expert in connecting research to clinical practice, Ms. Rodriguez has co-authored numerous articles on alternatives to incarceration and access to health care for justice populations.
David Olson (April 30) is a professor in the Criminal Justice and Criminology Department at Loyola University Chicago, where he is also the Graduate Program Director and previously served as Department Chairperson and Director of Loyola's interdisciplinary Forensic Science Program. For nearly 20 years, Dr. Olson worked at the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, where he was a Senior Scientist responsible for overseeing the evaluation of fedearlly funded drug and violemt crime control efforts in the State of Illinois. During his 29 years in the field of criminal justice, David has worked with a variety of federal, state and local agencies to develop, implement and evaluate programs and policiesw, particularly in the area of community and institutional corrections.
Jennifer Vollen-Katz (May 18) is an attorney and the Executive Director of the John Howard Association of Illinois. She oversees the Association's work monitoring the conditions and programming in all Illinois correctional facilities, as well as helping to create and implement operational and policy reform system wide. Jennifer is the past Chairperson and a current board member of the State Advisory Board to the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice; a board member on the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, for which she serves as the Chairperson of the Appeals Committee; a member of the Federal Defender Program, Salvation Army, and Chicago Community Bond Fund Advisory Boards; and she is also a member of the Board of Advisors of the Chicago Lawyer Chapter of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy.
Audience Engagement Events
Sunday April 30 - Immediately following the 3:00 pm performance. Talk to begin at approximately 5:30 pm
Guests: Dr. David Olson, Professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology Department at Loyola University Chicago; and Pamela Rodriguez, President of Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities, a statewide provider of prison diversion and community reentry services.
No charge for the talk only - reservations not necessary
Thursday May 18 - Immediately following the 7:30 pm performance. Talk to begin at approximately 10:00 pm.
Guest: Jennifer Vollen-Katz, Executive Director of The John Howard Association of Illinois, which monitors the conditions and programming in all Illinois correctional facilities, as well as helping to create and implement operational and policy reform system wide.
No charge for the talk only - reservations not necessary
Inspired by real events at a Philadelphia prison in 1937, convicts protesting the physically abusive and even murderous tactics of a martinet warden wage a hunger strike. This 1938 play, written six years before Williams's success with The Glass Menagerie, was for decades lost until the actress Vanessa Redgrave learned of it and was able to locate a manuscript. She brought it to Trevor Nunn, then Artistic Director of Britain's Royal National Theatre. Nunn and the RNT later staged the play's World Premiere as a three-way co-production with Redgrave's Moving Theatre and Houston's Alley Theatre. Their production transferred to Broadway in January 1999 and was nominated for six Tony awards.
The New York Times called Not About Nightingales "Enthralling...A feverish, full strength compassion for people in cages makes Nightingales fly toward a realm of pain and beauty that is the province of greatness...The emotions, both savage and painfully delicate, that saturate this work are arguably more rich and varied in tone than those of any American dramatist...The voices of Williams's entrapped nightingales...refuse to fade when the play is plunged into its concluding darkness."The New York Daily News said it was "The best American play so far this season...It adds to the reputation of one of America's greatest playwrights."
About Raven Theatre
Raven Theatre Company is committed to presenting a range of modern drama that illuminates the human experience. Through a vigorous program of full productions and new play development, as well as a first-class theatre education series, Raven creates a powerful and welcoming environment in which artists hone and showcase their skills, young students gain valuable insights into theatre arts, and patrons experience high quality programming that is easily accessible to all.
Raven Theatre Company is funded in part by Alphawood Foundation, Tha Arts Work Fund for Organizational Development, The MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince, Yates Feldman Foundation, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Dramatists Guild Fund, S & C Electric Company Fund and the Peter Turner Foundation. Raven is partially funded by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency. Raven's education and outreach programming is generously funded by Polk Bros. Foundation.
Free parking is provided in a lot adjacent to the theatre - additional street parking is available.
Raven Theatre is handicapped accessible.
Tickets/information: www.raventheatre.com or 773-338-2177.