Event Details
  • Non-members, please pay at least $8 to help keep us running.
    March 29, 2024
    5:00 pm - 6:45 pm
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Bringing Theater to Prisons (A Thing Movies Are Made of)
Friday 3/29/24, at 5pm ET

Community Gathering on Zoom - register with the bright red reservation box to receive the Zoom link. These gatherings are a service for the theater community and are offered free for TRU members; we ask that non-members help keep us running by making a donation or joining as a member.

In the room: Brent Buell, producer (the hip hop musical Freedom), director (unFramed, produced by TRU's Jane Dubin, From Sing Sing to Broadway at Playwright's Horizons), playwright (The Gate, The Gem Exchange), novelist (Rapturous), actor, activist. And a graduate of TRU's producer program. For ten years, Buell volunteered with the non-profit organization Rehabilitation Through the Arts, directing theater in New York’s maximum-security prisons. There his productions of plays, ranging from John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men to three original works by prisoners, earned praise from critics, including from The New York Times. His original comedy Breakin’ the Mummy’s Code premiered at Sing Sing and was the subject of a feature article in Esquire. But the current big news is that he recently completed work on a movie about events that took place while he was teaching theater inside Sing Sing, and the result is the new film Sing Sing, directed by Greg Kwedar and starring Oscar nominees Colman Domingo and Paul Raci. What inspired Brent to bring theater to prisons in the first place? What are the rewards? And are there dangers as well? How did the idea of making a movie about it come to be? What were the challenges of accurately telling this story? And what was the learning curve like moving from live performance to film?


    is a playwright, producer, director, actor and novelist. His plays include The Gem Exchange; Wood Bars, which he wrote with Miguel Valentin for the opening of Lin-Manuel Miranda, John Buffalo Mailer and Tom Kail‚Äôs Back House Productions; and, his Las Vegas spectacular, Undone Divas with Madelene Capelle. With Charles Moore, he co-authored The Gate‚ÄĒa drama about parole. He has taken the directorial helm on works including Iyaba Ibo Mandingo‚Äôs unFRAMED; From Sing Sing to Broadway; Rosemary Hester‚Äôs You Can‚Äôt Leave That There; Mark Schultz‚Äôs Deathbed and Josh Rivedal‚Äôs The Gospel According to Josh. He wrote and directed The Terrors of Teri, a film for Ohio University‚Äôs University College, and Goddess Film‚Äôs award-winning comedy Moses.¬† He has appeared in featured roles in films including Grand Opening and Al Quarem. For ten years, Buell directed theater in New York‚Äôs maximum-security prisons with plays ranging from John Steinbeck‚Äôs Of Mice and Men to original works by prisoners. Those plays earned praise from critics, including from The New York Times.¬† His Breakin‚Äô the Mummy‚Äôs Code premiered inside Sing Sing and was the subject of an Esquire feature by bestselling author, John Richardson. He is co-producer and story consultant of the new A24 movie Sing Sing directed by Greg Kwedar starring Academy Award Nominees Colman Domingo and Paul Raci.¬† His experiences with prison theater provide the basis for his chapter ‚ÄúDrama in the Big House‚ÄĚ in the book Performing New Lives, Prison Theater by Jonathan Shailor, and for his upcoming memoir, Sing Sing Backstage. His novels include the political parody, Rapturous and Daniel and My Revelation.