Friday, March 9, 2012

Insurgent Theatre Returns with IN THE BELLY

A critique of the prison system moves through town.

By Russ Bickerstaff
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The US prison system is kind of a disturbing animal. I guess that’s why so many of us try not to think about it. The problem is that so many of us ARE behind bars. Somewhere around 1980, the US prison population exploded. And it’s been on the rise ever since . . . right now about 0.7% of the population is behind bars. Doesn’t necessarily sound like a lot, but that’s 2.26 billion people. That’s over two times the population of Milwaukee. So it’s kind of a big deal.

The Milwaukee-born theatre company Insurgent Theatre has been reaching out to prisoners to get to know the system from the inside. The product of Kate Pleuss and Ben Turk’s labor is a show that attempts to get people to look at the prison system and really take notice of it. The project that was originally called Adseg has morphed and mutated into In The Belly—a show that Ben and Kate have toured with, performing in small venues for a highly integrated theatre experience.

The show comes back through town next month with a couple of stagings. On April 21st, they will be performing at Cream City Collectives on 732 East Clarke Street. On April 22nd, they will be performing at Riverwest Public house on 815 East Locust. Both shows are at 7pm.

There’s a heavy artistic end to what they’re doing here that can be very, very compelling, but Insurgent is very much an activist theatre company looking to engage in a really active dialogue about a very, very important social issue. I had a chance to sit down and talk with them about the show a while back. That interview will appear in podcast format here on my blog as the show approaches. 

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