Leah Joki spent 18 years in prison . . . not as a criminal . . . as a teacher. Now, she brings to life the complex characters she encountered in her two decades teaching in the California Penal System. Prison Boxing is a personal reflection on the prison system subculture from humorous to utterly horrifying. A journey that asks the questions: “Why did I choose to do that in my life?” “Would I do it over again?”
“This is the kind of work that engages audiences not only in the performance, but in post show dialogue. It’s what we think theatre should be about, opening up these kinds of discussions and encouraging new perspectives on other people’s circumstances, with judgments being checked at the door” – Gary Grossman; Producing Artistic Director.
PRISON BOXING was originally developed in a workshop at the Downtown Dance Collective in Missoula, MT under the direction of Joshua Kelly and subsequently developed through Skylight’s INKubator program.
PRISON BOXING is the first of three one-woman shows Skylight is presenting as part of our From Where She Stands series of work by women writers. It is followed by Annabelle Gurwitch’s show based on her best-selling book, I See You Made an Effort, in May and culminates in the West Coast Premiere of Maryedith Burrell’s #OUCH!.
Leah Joki (Playwright) was the first person from the state of Montana to be accepted to the Drama Program at Julliard. Under the auspices of Arts in Corrections she taught and/or performed in almost every state prison in California. Leah devoted the majority of her life to prison theater in California and became the only female Artist Facilitator in a men’s maximum-security prison. Her arts program was profiled in The Los Angeles Times, American Theatre Magazine and LA Weekly. In 2013 she published her memoir “Julliard To Jail,” about her career in prison that spanned over eighteen years. The film rights to her memoir have been optioned to True Blood and Magic Mike star Joe Manganiello and his production company 359inc. Selected writing credits include the one-woman show Hairball (The demystification of how one’s life turns to crap!), Sheets, Geezer’s Cabin, The Big Picture and The Year of Baldwin. She has had articles published in “Southsound Lifestyles” and is currently working on her second novel, “The Avon Café (A menopausal white woman’s search for true love in the wild, wild West!).”
Linda Grinde (Director) is a noted director and choreographer for regional theaters. In addition, she works as a consultant to playwrights on new play production. Linda shaped and directed the premiere of Kathy Witkowsky’s No Time for Love, and helped to create the one-woman show Belief, with Salish writers Julie Cajune and Jennifer Finley. Belief is scheduled to tour the Scottish Isles in 2015, after performances in the US, Spain. Linda received the Montana Art’s Council Strategic Artist’s Grant for directing the premiere of Moon Over Mission Dam. And for the last four years has served as theater consultant and director for a plan to create an indigenous theater festival on the Flathead Indian Reservation. In 2012 she directed four plays for N’pustin’s Native American Playwright’s Festival in Arlee.
PRISON BOXING runs at 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays through April 19, 2015. The Skylight Theatre Skylab is located at 1816 1/2 N. Vermont Ave, LA, 90027. Tickets are $25. Reservations: 213-761-7061 or online at http://skylighttix.com
Skylight Theatre Company/Gary Grossman (Executive Producer) develops and produces new, exhilarating works while nurturing and educating the writers who create them. A vibrant and expanding family of artists giving voice to original perspectives of today’s world, Skylight won 4 Ovation Awards in 2014 for The Wrong Man and Pray To Ball (the most of any intimate theatre in LA). LA Weekly named their productions of Years To The Day, Open House and Sexsting to their Top Ten Plays list of 2013. Skylight’s first year as a company dedicated to developing new plays began in 2011, their production of Hermetically Sealed made the LA Times annual list of Top Ten Plays, and Mad Woman moved from Los Angeles to La MaMa in New York. Plays developed by Skylight have played Chicago, New York, Edinburgh, Paris and local venues. http://skylighttheatrecompany.com