Felon: An American Washi Tale

Presented by Illinois Humanities and the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago

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When

Mar 15, 2024
7:00pm–9:30pm

Where

Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts
915 E 60th St
Performance Hall
Chicago, IL 60637

Cost

$15 General Admission
$5 Students, seniors, and children

Tickets
7 p.m. Performance  |  8 p.m. Post-show Conversation HOSTED BY damon williams and Daniel Kisslinger of AirGo  |  8:30 p.m. Book Signing and Reception 
Tickets on sale NOW

Felon: An America Washi Tale is a solo performance by Reginald Dwayne Betts that explores the experiences, memories, and consequences of incarceration through poetry, storytelling, and the art of Japanese paper-making. 

Performed by poet, lawyer, and MacArthur Fellow Reginald Dwayne Betts, this Washi Tale moves literally and metaphorically beyond the artist’s own life, unwrapping the disturbing ways that prison touches us all. 

In Betts' words, Felon is about reimagining paper. The pages of a book being slid into a cell, stoves made of toilet paper, kites from a father, handwritten affidavits, legal complaints, certificates of pardon: the variety of papers that reveals what is possible and burdened by prison. The world of Felon is shaped by set design by Japanese paper artist Kyoko Ibe, crafted from "prison paper" that artist Ruth Lingen constructed from the clothes of men Betts first met in prison as a teenager, each of whom were still in prison during the earliest stages of this project. 

Directed and developed by Elise Thoron, this story of violence, love, and fatherhood challenges us to peer out from the shadow of mass incarceration and imagine what else is possible. 

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This performance lasts 60 minutes. Tickets include a post-performance conversation with Betts hosted by AirGo, and a book signing and reception.

 

Written and performed by Reginald Dwayne Betts 

Directed and Developed by Elise Thoron 

Set Design by Kyoko Ibe 

Light Design by Jane Cox 

Sound Design by Palmer Hefferan 

Stage Manager: Tyler Sperrazza  

Felon: An American Washi Tale is co-presented by Illinois Humanities and the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts.

Tickets

$15 General Admission

$5 Students, seniors (65+), and children ages 12 and under

If the ticket price poses a challenge for you, please don't hesitate to reach out to us confidentially at nationalconvening@ilhumanities.org. Our goal is to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all participants, and your presence is important to us.

What to expect

Felon: An American Washi Tale is a 60-minute performance. Following the performance, there will be a live Q&A with Reginald Dwayne Betts, hosted and recorded live by AirGo, a Chicago podcast that unites the city's creative and justice communities. The evening will finish with a book signing and reception with complementary food and beverages.

The use of video, photography, audio, or any other recording devices is strictly prohibited during the performance.

Parking and Accessibility

For the most up-to-date information about parking and accessibility at the Logan Center, please visit their website.

Street parking is often available surrounding the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts on evenings and weekends. In addition, you can park for free at the The Wells Parking Lot at the corner of Drexel Avenue and 60th Street for free after 4pm on weekdays and all day on Saturdays and Sundays. The nearest paid parking structure can be found at the Drexel Parking Garage at Drexel Avenue and 61st Street.

There is a ramp available at the North entrance on 60th Street, and the South entrance is level with the street. Once inside, multiple elevators are available to navigate the Logan Center's multiple levels.

Health and Safety

For the most up-to-date information about health and safety guidelines at the Logan Center, please visit their website.

Masking or proof of vaccination is currently not required at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts. For the safety of all of our guests, you are encouraged to use your discretion if you are feeling unwell.

Policies
  • Tickets are nonrefundable and nontransferable.
  • The use of video, photography, audio, or any other recording devices is strictly prohibited during the performance.
  • Late seating is at the discretion of Logan Center staff.
  • If the ticket price poses a challenge for you, please don't hesitate to reach out to us confidentially at nationalconvening@ilhumanities.org. Our goal is to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all participants, and your presence is important to us.
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Reginald Dwayne Betts is a poet and lawyer. A 2021 MacArthur Fellow, he is the Executive Director of Freedom Reads, a not-for-profit organization that is radically transforming the access to literature in prisons through the installation of Freedom Libraries in prisons across this country. 

For more than twenty-years, he has used his poetry and essays to explore the world of prison and the effects of violence and incarceration on American society. The author of a memoir and three collections of poetry, he has transformed his latest collection of poetry, the American Book Award winning Felon, into a solo theater show that explores the post incarceration experience and lingering consequences of a criminal record through poetry, stories, and engaging with the timeless and transcendental art of paper-making.  

In 2019, Betts won the National Magazine Award in the Essays and Criticism category for his NY Times Magazine essay that chronicles his journey from prison to becoming a licensed attorney. He has been awarded a Radcliffe Fellowship from Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Emerson Fellow at New America, and most recently a Civil Society Fellow at Aspen. Betts holds a J.D. from Yale Law School. 

Betts Dwayne c Mamadi Doumbouya

Photo by Mamadi Doumbouya

AirGo is a weekly podcast based in Chicago that reshapes the culture of the city and beyond for the more liberatory and creative. Through longform conversations with movement workers, artists, rappers, poets, musicians, organizers, and changemakers, AirGo puts Chicago's reimaginers in conversation and creates a living dialogue-based archive of our creative communities and social movements. AirGo is the flagship show of Respair Production & Media, an ecosystem hub creating and supporting the media needed to reshape culture toward liberation. and is a sponsored project of Allied Media Projects.

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