Houssaynatou @ 'WhatDoesFreeMean?' - so surreal

What's it about?

A young woman who has done her time in the slammer, but society's rule of law continue to get in her way of her freedom. 

My experience.

I did not know what to expect from this play because there was not much information about it on the internet. Usually I look up the content of the show in addition to the reviews, so that I know what to expect. As my first time at The Tank theatre, it had a cute hole-in-the wall vibe. The theatre space was quite small but lately I have been used to attending shows that take place in small theatres. It definitely brings intimacy between audience members and actors. When I walked in, an actor was already in character but one lady did not get the memo. She began walking around chit chatting with everyone. Than the actor tapped her and said loudly with a stern voice, "take your seat" LOL. 

The setting took place in a jail, where two women befriend one another. They became studying buddies when it came to take the courses required to get their GED while in jail. I think the GED initiative for inmates is a great one. Though many inmates are in these institutions for various reasons, their time spent is crucial. Some stay from as little as a couple of months to a lifetime. So to bypass that time, an education component is great because you are never too old to learn and expand on your knowledge. For Anne and Mary, it was a proud moment for them to get their GED but they struggled with what good it would do for them. Though they were in jail, the possibility of them getting out was slim. But with laws and policies constantly changing and advocates pursuing wrongly convicted people, the chances increased just a little. The government is not at all perfect and they have made plenty of mistakes when it comes to the justice system. 

Unfortunately, Anne did not seek her chance for justice. She died due to cancer while in jail but Mary continued to fight for what she believed was injustice. But, I must say Mary is a strong person because the scenes that were depicted were crazy. I was squinting half of the time because I don't have the stomach to witness such vivid acts. For example in one scene, Mary beat up a male guard that she believed was treating her unfairly. She was eventually thrown into solitary confinement. That same guard she beat up snuck into her cell unnoticed and forced himself on her. It was so surreal that the guard even unzipped his pants and actually rubbed himself on her. That was my last straw and for the remainder of that scene, I closed my eyes. It's crazy to think such inhumane people can do such a thing to another human being. I continue to wish and believe that their day in hell will come with force. 

But, fortunately for Mary she survived it and solitary confinement because of what she already encountered while growing up. She was raised in the streets, where gangs was her family though her mom tried her best in keeping her away from that. As a female in gangs that consisted majority of men, she molded into that tough demeanor. So when she found out while in jail that her mother died, she kept her composure. But deep down inside she was broken for the first time in a long time. I don't see the need to hide ones emotions and feelings. It is who we are as human beings, so why is it so hard for some to show it? Though the answer typically goes along the line of "it's a sign of weakness" or "that's for soft people", my response is you're completely in denial. 

Eventually, Mary was released from jail due to the change of policies regarding first time offenders. Though she was excited, she could not help but realize what Anne would have thought. Life for her was now going to continue outside of those four walls, but a life she now needed to figure out what to do with. Life in general is scary without a doubt but what you do with it is entirely up to you. 


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