In this remount of Third Eye Ensemble's inaugural production of The Exonerated, we hear the words of six innocent men and women who emerged from years on death row to reclaim what is left of their lives. What does it truly mean to be exonerated? Literally, it is to be proclaimed innocent after having been convicted of a crime. But what effect does it have on a person, a soul, a life; to have one's freedom and self-respect stripped away and then, ostensibly, returned years later, after decades of incarceration?
Culled from interviews, letters, transcripts, case files and the public record, The Exonerated tells the true stories of six people sent to death row for crimes they did not commit. In this 90-minute play we meet Kerry, a sensitive Texan brutalized on Texas' death row for 22 years and Gary, a Midwestern organic farmer condemned for the murder of his own parents. We are introduced to Robert, an African-American horse groomer who spent seven years on Florida's death row for the murder of a white woman. We hear from David, a shy man with aspirations to the ministry, bullied into confessing at 18 to a robbery/murder he had nothing to do with, and from Sunny, a bright-spirited hippie who spent 17 years in prison, along with her husband, for the murder of two police officers. And finally, Delbert, a poet who serves as the play's central character, convicted of a rape/murder in the Deep South of the 1970s. These six interwoven stories paint a picture of a criminal justice system gone horribly wrong and of the six brave souls who persevered to survive it.
For Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, "the work we do together is grounded in asking audiences to empathize with people who they might not normally empathize with." For director Kent McQuaid, "One of the most compelling things about this piece is the diverse psychological reactions of six people that have suffered through a comparable trauma."
The Exonerated was first presented in 2011 for four days as an introduction to Third Eye Ensemble and sold out every night. This being the play's 10th anniversary, Third Eye Ensemble is proud to present it to you again, for a full run. For director Kent McQuaid "a remount is a rare opportunity to revisit a character that has been allowed to settle. We've found that the path to the heart of the character is much clearer and as a result, the impact of the play is stronger."
Featuring: Bineyam Girma, Raphael Grosz-Harvey, Chris Hicks, Kyle McIlhone, Anne-Marie Saheb, Jaa Smith Johnson, Bernice Bentley, Mikaela Davies, Yanik Ethier, Daniel Franck, Devin Swift. Stage Managed by: Béata Groves.
To persevere in our artistic service to humanity, never cloud imagination with facts, but to be truthful in our testimony. Frederick Ward, Artistic Director.
Created in 2011, Third Eye Ensemble got together with the objective of developing actors, playwrights and directors. A group of trained actors principally from Dawson's Dome theatre, our hope is to produce work with guts, staying power and truth.
THE EXONERATED will play at Espace 4001 Space, 4001 Berri, Wednesdays to Sundays at 8:00pm. Tickets: $15. Reservations: 514 710-4109 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Third Eye Ensemble has received support from, and will be donating a percentage of their proceeds to, the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted, a non-profit organization dedicated to identifying, advocating for, and exonerating individuals convicted of a crime that they did not commit. The AIDWYC team has reviewed hundreds of cases, leading to the successful exoneration of 14 individuals. Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter was AIDWYC Executive Director for over 10 years.
Third Eye Ensemble has also received support from Innocence McGill, a student-led endeavour centered at the Faculty of Law of McGill University. It is run under the supervision of prominent criminal lawyers, and is dedicated to researching and investigating claims of wrongful conviction in the province of Quebec. Their ultimate goal is to help secure the freedom of those who are factually innocent of serious crimes for which they continue to serve sentences in Quebec prisons.
Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen- Playwrights: The Exonerated is based on interviews that Jessica Bland and Erik Jensen conducted with over 40 wrongfully convicted death row inmates across the United States. The New York production of The Exonerated won the 2003 Lucille Lortel Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Off-Broadway Play and a Drama Desk Award. It was nominated for the Dramatists' Guild's Hull-Warriner Award, and the John Gassner Playwriting Award. Jessica and Erik have also received the Justice in Arts and Media Award from Death Penalty Focus, Court TV's Scales of Justice Award, and the 2003 Defender of Justice Award from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. The Exonerated was listed by Time Magazine as one of the top 3 plays of 2002. In spring of 2002, Erik and Jessica co-directed a critically acclaimed production of The Exonerated at Tim Robbins' Actors' Gang Theater. That production was nominated for five Ovation Awards (including Best Director) and 3 NAACP Awards; it won the Ovation for Best World Premiere Play.