press releases

For immediate release: coming to St. Louis July 27-29: “The box,” a Play that conveys the horrors of solitary confinement and the humanity of people subjected to it

July 25, 2022

MEDIA CONTACTS:  

For National Tour and Social Media: 
Seneca Beth, End of Isolation Tour
[email protected], (480) 262-1309

For Local Performances: 
Z Gorley, ArchCity Defenders
[email protected], (314) 898-8185

Coming to St. Louis, July 27-29: “The BOX,” A Play that Conveys the Horrors of Solitary Confinement and the Humanity of People Subjected to It

Formerly Incarcerated Playwright and Cast Members Cross the Country This Summer in a Converted School Bus, Visiting Impacted Communities with a Play Set in Solitary Confinement 

As part of a ten-city national tour, the End of Isolation Tour will bring an immersive, transformative play, The BOX, to The Big Top in St. Louis, MO from July 27 through July 29, 2022, in partnership with ArchCity Defenders, a holistic legal advocacy organization working to combat the criminalization of poverty and state violence. 

Based on correspondence with incarcerated people and inspired by true events, The BOX underscores both the horror of solitary confinement and the humanity of people subjected to it. The play is set in the solitary unit of an unnamed prison, where men are confined 23 hours a day to 6×9 cells to remember the past, dream of the future, yearn for loved ones, and rage against the system that threatens their sanity and their souls.

By turns entertaining and unsettling, The BOX offers a rare glimpse into the deep end of our prison system, the intimate bonds forged between survivors of brutality and isolation, the ripple effects of systematic torture, and the common core that makes us human.

The BOX is written and directed by Sarah Shourd, who was held in solitary confinement for over 400 days as an American political prisoner in Iran. After discovering the prevalence of solitary confinement in her own country, she collaborated with other survivors to create this project. Several members of the nine-person cast and crew are formerly incarcerated.

The play, which premiered in 2016 and played to sold-out audiences in San Francisco, Marin County, and Alcatraz Island, has been reconceived as a traveling show for the age of COVID. The team will make its way from city to city in a converted school bus with a mural by DJ Agana (instagram.com/dj_agana). Filmmakers Bobby Field and Emile DeWeaver are creating an exclusive behind-the-scenes documentary series about the tour, which will provide intimate insight into what it takes to create transformative theater, as well as how individuals deal with the legacy of prison torture.

The End of Isolation Tour aims to enact political change and to promote healing through drama and artistic ritual. With the support of national partners the Pulitzer Center and Unlock the Box, it has teamed up with organizations and activists in each community that are working to shift perceptions and policies around solitary confinement in the United States, where an unparalleled 80,000 men, women, and children are held in isolation on any given day. A portion of tickets for each show are reserved for formerly incarcerated and other system-impacted people.

Tickets may be purchased online.

“The message is clear: We need each other as much as we need fresh air, food, and water. We need each other if we are to prevent the greed, ignorance, and incompetence of a few from undermining the human spirit. We need each other to survive. I collected the stories you will witness from people trapped a decade ago in the hellish deep end of our country’s prisons. Now, in a cruel twist of history, there could not be a more powerful moment to bring their stories back.”

—Sarah Shourd, playwright, director, tour co-organizer and survivor of solitary confinement

“Before I met Sarah Shourd, and was hired as actor and chef for the End of Isolation Tour, most people in my life didn’t know about my incarceration. Acting in The BOX stripped me down, like the layers of an onion, revealing what was inside. This stripping down for me is freedom. Now, I want to take that freedom on the End of Isolation Tour for others.”

—Anthony Michael Jefferson (“AJ”), formerly incarcerated actor

“Ending isolation isn’t a painful longing for something that’s going to happen in the future; it’s what we are doing right now. We are ending isolation right now—on this stage.” 

—Arnie Fischman, formerly incarcerated tour co-organizer

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Multimedia Materials and Links

View a video about The Box and the End of Isolation tour:

View a set of publishable photos:

Photos to share with press

Learn more about the End of Isolation Tour: endofisolationtour.org

Learn more about Sarah Shourd: sarahshourd.com.

Follow the End of Isolation Tour on Social Media:

instagram.com/end_isolation

facebook.com/endisolationbegintransformation

twitter.com/@EndofIsolation

Learn About the End of Isolation Tour National Partners:

Presenting Sponsor: The Pulitzer Center 

National Sponsor: Unlock The Box

Organizational Ally: Solitary Watch

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