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Featured Contributors, Feb. 2019

A deep dive into theatre in prison, and a study of William Kentridge’s latest opus.

Devon Smith.

Writer and digital strategist Devon Smith had little exposure to arts-in-corrections programs until she attended a Shakespeare in Prisons conference at San Diego’s Old Globe last year. She left with 100-plus pages of transcripts, to which she added in her reporting for this issue. She says she was struck not only by “how incredibly rewarding the work seems to be for everyone involved,” but by the resourcefulness required to navigate a complicated system. “Teaching artists in these programs end up needing to rely on their skills as educators, social workers, evaluators, and fundraisers far beyond the ‘typical’ call of duty.”

Eileen Blumenthal.

Theatre writer and professor Eileen Blumenthal last wrote about visionary South African designer/director William Kentridge for this magazine in 2010, when she followed his work on The Nose at the Metropolitan Opera. In this issue she does much the same for his moving tribute to the Black African casualties of World War I, The Head and the Load. Kentridge’s “non-linear and non-literal images,” Blumenthal says, conjure “a profound picture of the complexity, absurdity, and pain” of his native land . “Somehow the exhilarating beauty of his work never undercuts its political ferocity. And his expressionist and Dadaist aesthetics always serve the subject rather than becoming the subject.”

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