Performance of PPTG work at Auburn Public Theatre

Using material from all three scripts by the men of PPTG, this multi media piece should prove interesting to those who know PPTG’s work and serve as an introduction to the Phoenix Players for others.

Thursday through Saturday, April 14-16 at 7:30pm

Human Again

Directed by Bruce Levitt

A production based on the work of the Phoenix Players Theatre Group – a program developed at Auburn Correctional Facility by and for incarcerated persons and Communities in a maximum-security prison.

This unique production outside of the prison walls will include actors performing original material written by the men of PPTG interwoven with video of the incarcerated performers.

Human Again is a production based on the work of the Phoenix Players Theatre Group, directed by Bruce Levitt. The Phoenix Players Theatre Group was founded in 2009 at Auburn Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison in Auburn New York, by a small group of incarcerated men dedicated to the idea that theatre work, combined with group inner healing work, is a true opportunity for them to connect and to become more fully human. Experiences gained through PPTG significantly increase incarcerated peoples’ chances of transcending the negative labels and histories of criminality that define them within the greater society.
Michael Rhynes, the co-founder of PPTG,  explains why he founded the group:  “One of the reasons I created PPTG is because we’re not allowed to have any input into our own transformation. I, for one, do not subscribe to what I call “THE HEART OF DARKNESS” approach. This is a theory I extrapolated from reading Joseph Conrad’s book THE HEART OF DARKNESS. My theory simply means I don’t believe people from outside of any situation should come in to solve problems without conferring with the people who are affected by what’s going on in that particular situation. PPTG is rooted in the authenticity of our lives. The thing that sets us apart is that we generate the vast majority of our material from our life experiences. We have complete autonomy over our scripts.”

Director and Facilitator Bruce Levitt writes, ” We have collaborated with the men of PPTG in creating a training process that serves as a catalyst to transformation within the prison setting. After each cycle of training, the incarcerated men devise performances, with the guidance of the facilitators, which take place approximately every 18 months to two years.  The men perform for an audience of 80 invited civilians because they want to be witnessed-to alter the stereotypes about incarcerated people and to reveal themselves as unique/multi-faceted individuals who transcend the labels that define them within the greater society.

Witnessing is a critical concept for PPTG and one of the group’s main goals. It is part of the transformative power of the PPTG process. Through the sharing of stories and experiences that spread outside Auburn’s walls the incarcerated members of PPTG might open up in the minds of the public alternate perceptions of themselves and of incarcerated people more generally. We are uniquely poised to bear witness to the group because as facilitators we create, perform, and explore alongside them. With one foot inside the walls and one foot outside, it is our charge to introduce PPTG’s process to a wider audience.”

Mirth, A Theatre Company is the not-for-profit fiscal sponsor of the Phoenix Players.

Tickets: $15 in advance/ $20 at the door