Death Penalty Discourse

Sister Helen Prejean’s name might ring a bell because of Susan Sarandon’s performance in Dead Man Walking — Tim Robbins’s 1995 film about a Roman Catholic nun and her relationship with a death-row inmate, based on Prejean’s 1993 memoir of the same name — but it’s about to ring an alarm in Boulder, where Naropa University’s BFA in Performance and Peace Studies programs have collaborated on a stage adaptation. Turns out Prejean wasn’t content to let the capital-punishment conversation die fifteen years ago, so she solicited Robbins to write a play specifically for high-school and college students to perform.

“Her intention is to continue to facilitate discourse — to get people talking about the death penalty, whether they’re pro- or anti-,” says Joan Bruemmer, who directs the play. “From Naropa University’s Buddhist-inspired perspective, it’s talking a lot about compassion, even compassion for people who’ve done terrible things. The play itself is pretty similar to the movie, except that it’s a little bit more expansive in terms of addressing the victims’ families and giving them a voice.”

The production opens tonight at 8 p.m., with a second show tomorrow at 8, in the Performing Arts Center on Naropa’s Arapahoe campus, 2130 Arapahoe Avenue. Admission is $10 for the general public, free for all past and present Naropa community members with ID. For more information, go to [email protected] or call 303-245-4798.
Fri., April 30, 8 p.m.; Sat., May 1, 8 p.m., 2010

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Drew Bixby