The School of Music, Theatre & Dance welcomes author Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ, on Thursday, November 13 at 3PM in Rackham Auditorium, where she will present a lecture, "Dead Man Walking, the Journey Continues," as part of the Sally Fleming Master Class series. The event is free and open to the public.
The presentation is in conjunction with SMTD performances of the opera Dead Man Walking, which take place November 13 at 7:30PM, November 14 and 15 at 8PM, and November 16 at 2PM at the Power Center for the Performing Arts in Ann Arbor. Sister Prejean will also lead a post-show discussion following the Thursday evening performance.
Directed by associate professor Kay Walker Castaldo, the Dean Man Walking performances feature the University Symphony Orchestra under the baton of guest conductor Jerome Shannon. The production is double cast and will be sung in English with projected English supertitles.
A member of the Congregation of St. Joseph, Sister Helen Prejean began working at Hope House in New Orleans in the early 1980s. During that time, she became the spiritual adviser to a death row inmate Patrick Sonnier at Angola State Penitentiary. After witnessing Sonnier's execution, she wrote a book about the experience, Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States. Since 1984, Sister Helen has divided her time between educating citizens about the death penalty and counseling individual death row prisoners. Dead Man Walking was adapted for the stage and screen by Tim Robbins, winning an Academy Award. The book was recently re-released in a 20th Anniversary edition.
The opera Dead Man Walking, commissioned by the San Francisco Opera, was the first opera composed by Jake Heggie in collaboration with award-winning playwright Terrence McNally (Master Class, Love! Valor! Compassion!). It premiered in October 2000 in San Francisco and has received more than 40 productions throughout the United States and internationally.
Also in connection with the performances, a curated exhibition of art by current and formerly incarcerated individuals will be on display in the Power Center lobby for the month of November, presented by the U-M Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP). PCAP was founded in 1990 with a mission to collaborate with incarcerated adults, incarcerated youth, urban youth, and the formerly incarcerated to strengthen our community through creative expression. Housed in the U-M's Residential College, faculty and students work with community members both inside and outside prisons to engage in workshops in theatre, dance, visual art, creative writing, slam poetry, and music. Annually, PCAP hosts one of the largest prisoner art exhibitions in the world and publishes a literary journal of writing by incarcerated authors. For more information, visit the PCAP website.