THE ARTISTIC ENSEMBLE AT SAN QUENTIN PRISON (USA)
Workshops on Thursday and Friday
The statistics are well known. Today in the United States there are 2.2 million people who are currently incarcerated. 6.2 million on parole and probations, 64 million people who have criminal records affecting their ability to find housing, receive food stamps, get jobs and vote. We know that mass incarceration is not just about individual acts of criminality or individual responsibility. Rather, it confirms that the United States’ punishment system is a much larger problem, at the root of which is institutional and racial inequity.
The imprisoned body is one of the primary sites of prison control, an elaborate choreography of containment and segregation. Behind prison walls, regimented rituals of eating, cleaning, labor and leisure curtail individual freedom of movement in the service of “orderly” systems, notating where and how one moves through space and time, shaping relations between objects, spaces, bodies. Then how do incarcerated artists create work? How do inside and outside artists, working in an inhumane system, develop a creative process that supports humanity? How do outside artists use their platform to support and develop work inside facilities that critiques mass imprisonment and its conditions of emergence? How does transmission occur when stage and audience are separated by a system of mass incarceration that disappears certain bodies?
This workshop, and the projects that will be presented, are part of a collective process of political struggle where inside and outside artists are working side by side for a transformation that addresses the legacies of racism, segregation, disenfranchisement, and mass incarceration. We hope to smuggle the voices of incarcerated artists out—and to invite you to engage with those in prisons and jails as thinkers and makers.
Antwan “Banks” Williams is the Co-Creator and Sound Designer for the award winning podcast Ear Hustle. As a multi-faceted artist, his practices include dance, visual arts, spoken word, as well as music composition. Antwan’s choreography and directing can be seen in the work of the Artistic Ensemble, a dance/theater company. His performing experience over the last seven years includes eight productions with the Marin Shakespeare Company in San Quentin Prison. In October of 2019, Antwan was released from prison and is currently performing music throughout the Bay Area, and touring local schools, sharing his experience of incarceration inside the Justice System. https://antwanbankswilliams.bandcamp.com
Amie Dowling creates dance and theater for the stage, for film and in community settings. Her current work considers the politics and representation of mass incarceration. She facilitates performance workshops in the San Francisco Jails and is a member of the Artistic Ensemble in San Quentin Prison. Her award winning films Well Contested Sites andA Separate Sentence, and their accompanying study guides, are collaborations with Bay Area artists, several of whom were previously incarcerated. The films and study guides are used to initiate dialogue about mass incarceration and restorative justice practices in High School and College classrooms throughout the United States. Amie is on the Performing Arts and Social Justice faculty of the University of San Francisco. www.amiedowling.com