'The Castle' To Perform on Rikers Island

NYC Department of Corrections Commissioner Martin Horn has invited the cast of the Off-Broadway play, THE CASTLE to give three separate performances on Rikers Island.  This unique theatrical piece presents a searing, first-hand look at the lives of four formerly incarcerated New Yorkers and their re-entry into society.  It was conceived and directed by David Rothenberg and written in collaboration with and is performed by Vilma Ortiz Donovan, Kenneth Harrigan, Angel Ramos and Casimiro Torres, all of whom tell their own real-life stories.

The first performance was held May 6th for 500 corrections officers.  The second performance is scheduled for Thursday, May 15th for female inmates, followed by a third performance on Thursday, June 5th for the male prison population.

The four members of the cast, Vilma Ortiz Donovan, Kenneth Harrigan, Angel Ramos and Casimiro Torres have all been incarcerated.  Mssrs. Torres, Harrigan and Ramos have all done time on Rikers Islands.  The Castle is now playing at the New World Stages (340 West 50th Street), and has been brought Off-Broadway by producers Eric Krebs and Chase Mishkin, where it began performances March 30th, after it was initially presented at The Castle, the Fortune Society's residence for formerly incarcerated men and women.

THE CASTLE, an imposing upper west side residential facility for the formerly incarcerated, was opened (and is maintained) by  The Fortune Society, a non-profit organization that helps put men and women, recently emerged from prison, on their re-entry into society.  The organization was established by Mr. Rothenberg following the success of the 1967 Off-Broadway production of the play, Fortune and Men's Eyes (itself, a play about a young man's experience in a youth detention center).

"Fortune Society, The Castle and now this play, THE CASTLE, came into being because of another play from years ago," said Rothenberg.  "This piece of theater has a natural power all its own, because the stories being told belong to the people telling them."

THE CASTLE plays the following unique schedule:  Saturdays and Sundays at 5:00 p.m. at New World Stages (340 West 50th Street).  Tickets are $30 & $45 and are available at the New World Stages box office or via Telecharge (212-239-6200) or Telecharge.com.                                         

The Fortune Society is a not-for-profit, community-based organization dedicated to educating the public about prisons, criminal justice issues, and the root causes of crime. Staffed primarily by ex-prisoners, the organization helps former inmates and at-risk youth break the cycle of crime and incarceration through a broad range of services.  The Fortune Society works to improve prison conditions and protect the rights of prisoners by providing the foundation from which new lives can be launched.

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