State of Incarceration 

Directed by John Malpede and Henriëtte Brouwers and written / improvised by the LAPD performers.

at the Queens Museum in New York

January 31 & February 1, 2014.

About State of Incarceration

The project combines theater, installation and public education to examine the personal and social costs of incarceration in the US. The performance and installation’s creative material was developed in workshops and brings together the first hand personal experience of performers including their inside understanding of how the prison system functions. In State of Incarceration these artists articulate the mental and physical challenges of incarceration and the resources needed to endure and recover from it.

State of Incarceration (2010 – ongoing) At the Queens Museum of Art, the performance will take place at the start of the exhibition so that documentation can be integrated into the performance architecture. Prison bunkbeds are crammed wall-to-wall into a gallery. The audience sits amidst the performers, who deliver monologues in the narrow aisles, sweep or scrub the bedframes, or sleep or ruminate on their backs, individually or as a chorus in choreographed sequences. Hallucination, claustrophobia, anger, and a sense of community are layered together through monologue, song, and silence. As is customary, the script was created by LAPD members and associates (a third of parolees released to the Los Angeles area settle in Skid Row).

After the performances during the first week of the exhibition, the prison beds remain, and documentation of discrete segments will be integrated into the bunkbed architecture, which may also host additional programs or relevant material (on issues specific to Queens participants, for example, or a Skype interview LAPD recently conducted with one of the lawyers who successfully argued the California prison overcrowding case in the US Supreme Court).

This project is a touring residency in which people in local programs for recently released prisoners or parolees can participate. The script has a basic structure that does not change but new material would be generated and incorporated, depending on the length of residency and the material that comes out of it.

The Cast


Henriëtte Brouwers, Jennifer Campbell, Walter Fears, Silvia Hernandez, Austin Hines, Chas Jackson, Kevin Michael Key, John Malpede, Riccarlo Porter, Anthony Taylor, Adrian Turnage, Ronald Walker.


The performances of State Of Incarceration at the Queens Museum were made possible in part by the theater grant from the National Performance Network.