Signature Theatre's 'World of the Play' Continues for AND I AND SILENCE, 9/13

Signature Theatre's 'World of the Play' Continues for AND I AND SILENCE, 9/13

Signature Theatre has announced the continuation of the "World of the Play" series with a panel of experts discussing Women Prisoners and America's Incarceration Crisis. This event is presented in conjunction with the U.S. Premiere of AND I AND SILENCE by Naomi Wallace, directed by Caitlin McLeod, and will take place on Saturday, September 13 at 4:15 p.m. in The Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center (480 West 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenues). The event is free and open to the general public (no reservations required).

Although women represent the fastest growing segment of America's prison population, popular and scholarly attention has largely neglected the needs, challenges and rights specific to incarcerated women. This panel will consider the evolving attitudes toward women's imprisonment, from the reformatory ideal of the Progressive Era to the current mass incarceration crisis and the War on Drugs-as well as the ways in which the criminal justice system perpetuates sexual and racial injustice. How did America's incarceration crisis come about, and how has it uniquely affected women, their families and communities? What forms of discrimination, neglect and violence do women prisoners face? What obstacles do they encounter upon release? What ways do they find to resist? Can we as a society envision a more just system?

Panelists include Mary Johnson, Victoria Law, and Vivian Nixon. The discussion will be led by moderator Brian Phillips.

MARY JOHNSON (Panelist) is currently the Clinical Director of Coming Home at St. Luke's Hospital, where she has managed a program related to health care for men and women coming home from prison for the past eight years. Mary received her Master's Degree in Social Work from Hunter College in 2004 and was named Student of the year by NASW for her exemplary work as an advocate and for her dedication to improving the lives of formerly incarcerated individuals and their families. Mary served a 15-to-life sentence in prison at the age of 18.

VICTORIA LAW (Panelist) is a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women, which won the 2009 PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) award. She frequently writes and speaks about the intersections between mass incarceration, gender and resistance. Victoria has over ten years of experience working with writers to shape and revise their works for publication. Since 2003, she has edited Tenacious: Art and Writings by Women in Prison. In addition, she has worked with incarcerated women to develop their writings for other publications. Victoria has also worked with writers outside of prison, and is the co-editor of Don't Leave Your Friends Behind: Concrete Ways to Support Families in Social Justice Movements and Communities.

VIVIAN NIXON (Panelist) is Executive Director of College and Community Fellowship (CCF), an organization committed to removing individual and structural barriers to higher education for women with criminal record histories and their families. She identifies her most valued and life-changing experience as the time she spent as a peer educator in the adult basic education program at Albion State Correctional Facility in New York. Rev. Nixon is ordained by the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AMEC) and currently serves as an associate minister at Mt. Zion AMEC in New York City. She has received multiple honors and awards including the John Jay Medal for Justice, the Ascend Fellowship at the Aspen Institute, the Soros Justice Fellowship, and the Petra Foundation Fellowship. Her leadership activities include co-founding the Education Inside Out Coalition (EIO), a collaborative effort to increase access to higher education for justice involved students. Rev. Nixon holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the State University of New York Empire College where she is continuing graduate studies. She is currently a Columbia University Community Scholar.

Brian Phillips (moderator) is the co-editor of the Journal of Human Rights Practice, published by Oxford University Press. Based now in Toronto, he presently works as an independent human rights consultant. From 2003 until 2006, he was Chair of the Oxford Brookes University MA program in Humanitarian and Development Practice (UK) - where he was also Senior Lecturer in Human Rights Practice. He worked as a campaigner and educator for Amnesty International in London from 1989 - 2001 - and was the Campaign Coordinator for the organization's Europe Regional Program from 1995 - 2001.

Tickets for all Signature productions are available by calling Signature at 212-244-7529, online by visiting, or by visiting The Pershing Square Signature Center (480 West 42nd Street). For more information on the World of the Play event, And I and Silence, and Signature Theatre, please visit

Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy

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