FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 28, 2022
DOC LIVESTREAMS THE BROADWAY PLAY “CLYDE’S”
ONTO RIKERS ISLAND
Photo Credit: NYC Department of Correction
East Elmhurst, NY (January 28, 2022) – In a first for DOC, the Programming Division and outside partners have successfully streamed a live performance of a Broadway play onto Rikers Island.
On Wednesday, January 12, people in custody at the Veteran’s Unit at the Anna M. Kross Center (AMKC) viewed Second Stage Theater’s hit show “Clyde’s,” written by Lynn Nottage and directed by Kate Whoriskey, as it was taking place a borough away at the Helen Hayes Theater on Broadway. The play, whose characters include four formerly incarcerated people working at a truck stop diner run by a fellow former prisoner, speaks to the experiences and challenges people who are formerly incarcerated face as they struggle to reenter society—struggles that many in custody can related to.
The unique programming was made possible after DOC partnered with the Art for Justice Fund, the Ford Foundation, Second Stage Theater, and streaming provider Assemble Stream. It was the first of what DOC hopes become many more instances of live, remote programming for people in custody.
“We are proud of the work we are doing to provide theater and visual arts in our facilities,” said Commissioner Louis Molina. “From distributing self-guided materials to streaming a live Broadway play just shows how far we will go and our commitment to providing services no matter the circumstances.”
Over the past 2 years, COVID-19 precautions have impacted DOC’s ability to consistently provide in-person programming to people in custody, and as a result many in-person programs and services have been either suspended or modified. Even with these challenges, the agency’s commitment to providing quality programming has never ceased, whether it has meant distributing self-guided materials and activities via tablets or printed packets or, in the case of “Clyde’s”, pioneering a way to beam Broadway into a jail dorm.
“I am so happy that we were able to pull this off! Through hard-work and close collaboration with the Ford Foundation, we will try to provide livestreams like this wherever possible,” said DOC Director of Arts Education Tommy Demenkoff. “Will continue to monitor and adapt based on the feedback and experiences of those that participate.”
“We are grateful to Lynn Nottage and Second Stage Theater for insisting on pushing the boundaries of theater and engaging new audiences,” said Helena Huang, Project Director for the Art for Justice Fund. “Their work exemplifies art’s unique power to cultivate empathy and advance social change.
“Second Stage Theater was thrilled to partner with show sponsor Art For Justice Fund and the Ford Foundation to share the live simulcast of Clyde’s with members of the Veteran’s Unit at Rikers Island,” said Second Stage Executive Director Khady Kamara. “One of our main goals with Clyde’s was to make the production as accessible as possible, including via the simulcast, so to have it be embraced by this community was especially rewarding for everyone involved.”
“We are thrilled that we can invite new audiences to experience theatre. The conversation we had with people at Rikers directly informed the acting choices the following performance,” said “Clyde’s” Director Kate Whoriskey. “The Ford Foundation knows that dialogue between artists and communities have such profound influences on the work. We thank them and the folks at Rikers for enriching what’s on stage.”
“As a Web3 technology company, we are thrilled to be able to enable virtual access to live content like ‘Clyde’s,’ said Katie McKenna, VP of Marketing and Business Development at Assemble Stream, the streaming service that worked with the Second Stage Theater and the Art for Justice Fund to make it happen.
Following the performance, “Clyde’s” playwright, Lynn Nottage, director Kate Whoriskey, and several cast members participated in a discussion about the play with the group in the Veteran’s Unit.
Programs and services have been an integral part of DOC’s history, culture and strategy for safety and reform. Programming improves safety and conditions, increases detainee engagement and morale, reduces violence, and provides people in custody with tools they can take with them when they return to their communities.
About the Department of Correction
The New York City Department of Correction (DOC) is dedicated to creating a safe and supportive environment while providing individuals in our care with a path to successfully re-enter their communities.