Prisoner’s Song is a performance created by composer Gelsey Bell and visual artist Erik Ruin, with director Rick Burkhardt, about the prison experience. Using shadow puppets and projections alongside a variety of musical idioms, the piece draws on historic ballads, poetry, audio interviews with people who have spent time in prison, and other primary sources to create a fragmentary encounter with the states of mind and heart prison engenders.
Prisoner’s Song premiered in October 2015, at Roulette Intermedia in Brooklyn, with an earlier workshop performance at Everett Stage in Providence, Rhode ISland. Future performances are forthcoming.
According to a review in the New York Times, it’s “uncomfortably powerful.” “On long scrolls of paper, Mr. Ruin created intricate cutouts with people, buildings and fences blending into abstract latticework patterns. When he gently pulled these over the projector the images on the screen moved with hallucinatory fluidity.”