About the Grant

$30,000 to support Thousand Kites (MAP 2005), a “community play creation process” mirrored in digital space, which will premiere simultaneously in 15-30 prisons and prison communities and broadcast in real time by 100 community radio stations.

About the Project

Utilizing audio, video, live performance, and digital mediums, Appalshop’s Holler to the Hood (H2H) project has created a local and national web community around prison issues. In the past five years, thousands of kites – in prisoner slang to fly a kite is to send a message – have flown between H2H and prisoners—including raps, songs, and poems performed over toll-free phone lines hooked to H2H’s weekly radio and web broadcast. Hundreds of letters, essays, and pieces of prisoner art have been posted on H2H’s website. The Thousand Kites project relies on this web network, and innovative use of the digital medium itself, to create a series of live community-based performances.

Performance creation will begin with the prisoners in two Appalachian super-maximum prisons cited in 2001 by Human Rights Watch for physical abuse, racial intimidation, and sexual humiliation – and, importantly, with these prisoners’ home communities. Working virtually with prisoners and in-person with families of prisoners, the H2H and Roadside ensembles will use their combined expertise to jump-start script development; the theater’s community story-circle methodology, will be mirrored in digital space by H2H to allow for prisoner and prisoner network participation. This creation process will produce a script that can be adapted to the culturally specific, local content of each presenting community. Family photo albums and prison art will be important design elements in each of the local productions.

The 15-30 live performances will premiere simultaneously in December 2006 in prisons, churches and community centers in prison communities, co-produced by members of the national prison network of activists and prison family organizations associated with H2H. These performances will be broadcast on 100 radio stations located near prisons—from Sing-Sing to Red Onion to Angola—which are also part of H2H’s network. After the premieres, the script will be available for public use free of charge through H2H’s website. H2H and Roadside conceive of their artistic work in cycles of planning, creation, and assessment within 10 year time frames, thus what is learned from this effort will become the basis for the next cycle of their prison work.

Related Websites

Appalshop’s <EM>Thousand Kites Project</EM>
Appalshop’s Thousand Kites Project


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