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28 maximum-security inmates, guided by Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Chris Hedges, write a play on horrors of mass incarceration.
28 maximum-security inmates, guided by Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Chris Hedges, write a play on horrors of mass incarceration.
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684 backers pledged $51,945 to help bring this project to life.

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$51,945

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Discover what happens when a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist dares 28 inmates to collaboratively write a play on the horrors of mass incarceration.  

Why have we turned a blind eye to mass modern slavery?
Why have we turned a blind eye to mass modern slavery?

STRETCH GOALS: $55,000 for the FAMILIES and the FILM

We are so grateful for the outpouring of support for this project. Because of you, we reached our goal of 30K in just 15 days! CAGED will be produced! Thank you!

The vast swath from where the donations have originated speaks to how Mass Incarceration affects so many people, families, communities and the country. But this problem, we have come to realize, is also a global concern. Donations have come in from over a dozen countries.

We hope you will continue to support this campaign, as we are setting a new goal of $55,000, which will fund transportation for the families of the incarcerated writers to travel to play's opening (Don't forget, there are 28 writers. They all have families.)

The funds of this Stretch Goal will also help the documentary film being made on this project, which began almost three years ago just after Chris Hedges promised his class that he would somehow, someway mount the play.

The first and only question the inmates had for Chris was: "Can our families go?"

The documentary film is not simply a run-and-gun, behind-the-scenes look at producing CAGED. Nor is it merely the filmed version the play. Rather, the film utilizes specific, incisive scenes from the play as a narrative springboard in order to examine the vast cultural and social implications that the script itself presents. It will be a lasting document that will continue to expose this form of modern slavery.

We cannot thank you enough for your overwhelming support. We are thrilled to be working with you in being a megaphone for reform and change.

ABOUT CAGED

Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges has taught in America's most elite universities, including Princeton, Columbia, and New York University. 

It was a class at a Maximum Security Prison, however, where he found “more brilliance, literacy, passion, wisdom and integrity… than in any other classroom…”

In Hedges’ class, 28 men collaboratively wrote a play in which the drama of their lives, so often portrayed by others, is finally told in their own words.

Inspired by their exceptional talent, Hedges promised that he’d share their voices with the world and—somehow, someday—mount the play.

Now, over three years later, Hedges, along with, Boris Franklin, the only writer who has been released from prison to date, are planning to premiere “CAGED” at The Passage Theatre in Trenton, NJ, during their Spring 2018 season.

Chris Hedges and Boris Franklin, the only inmate to be released, rewrite scenes from the play
Chris Hedges and Boris Franklin, the only inmate to be released, rewrite scenes from the play


WHY THIS STORY NOW

If you haven’t had an immediate family member, a relative or a friend who has been swallowed up by the U.S. prison system, more than likely, you will. The numbers, well publicized by now, bare this out.

Since 1980, the rate of incarceration in the U.S. has gone up 800%. What this means in terms of today is that 1 in 3 young people under the age of 23 will be going to jail.

Couple those stats with the financial juggernaut of privatizing prisons and there is little doubt that human beings have become a commodity.

"CAGED" offers a unique perspective about mass incarceration. We view it from the inside out and hear the voices of the imprisoned, the forgotten, the lost and the damned. They speak of a system that is harvesting human beings for profit but they also press the real need to heal and reform the system. 

With your help, we will be able to give the material the production it deserves.

WHY YOUR SUPPORT IS NEEDED

Our current political forces are looking to roll back any and all progress in stopping mass incarceration, making projects like "CAGED" critical education and resistance tools for the general public.

"CAGED" (and the documentary film about it) strives to become a mechanism that can inspire, instigate and can provide both healing and reform inside and outside of the prison cell.

Filmmaker Michael Nigro has been documenting the 3-year-process in trying to mount this incredible play for his film "Uncaged."
Filmmaker Michael Nigro has been documenting the 3-year-process in trying to mount this incredible play for his film "Uncaged."

ABOUT THE CAGED TEAM 

CHRIS HEDGES: Princeton. Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, Truthdig columnist and the author of several New York Times bestsellers, including Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, which he wrote with the cartoonist Joe Saco. He teaches in prisons in New Jersey.

BORIS FRANKLIN: New Brunswick. 11 years in prison. Released in May 2015 at age 42. Father of Four. Assistant director of the New Directions program for prisoners. Currently a full-time student at Rutgers University.

EUNICE WONG: Princeton. Trained at the Juilliard School Drama Division received the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actress, a Barrymore Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress, and a member of Actors' Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA. 

SEE THE BIOS OF ALL THE PLAYWRIGHTS HERE: CAGED

PASSAGE THEATRE: Passage is an award-winning professional theatre developing and producing primarily new plays that raise the visibility of under-represented voices within our communities. For more on PASSAGE.

MICHAEL NIGRO: (Filmmaker) Michael Nigro is an award-winning filmmaker, six-time Emmy-nominated writer-director and multi-media journalist based in Brooklyn, New York. More on his documentary UNCAGED.

TRUTHDIG: Founded in 2005 by Publisher Zuade Kaufman and Editor in Chief Robert Scheer, Truthdig is dedicated to reporting on current issues that are insufficiently covered by mainstream media. The website’s mission is to dig beneath the headlines, provide expert reporting and commentary from a progressive point of view, and offer an outlet for original work by exceptional journalists.

Truthdig rests on the bedrock of independent journalism, and insists that their reporting meets the highest standards.

Boris Franklin, the only inmate to be released, reads the dedication of the play (see below) for the Documentary "Uncaged."
Boris Franklin, the only inmate to be released, reads the dedication of the play (see below) for the Documentary "Uncaged."

JOIN US IN BRINGING THIS PROJECT TO LIFE!


Risks and challenges

"CAGED" has the potential to inspire, to change a system driven by greed, to be at the forefront of creating an educated resistance against the harvesting human beings for profit.

If our desired full-scale production does not come to fruition through our Kickstarter campaign, our fallback plan is to continue on, certainly, but with a much smaller reach, which, sadly, means more people are incarcerated, more families and communities are ripped apart.

With projects like CAGED (and the documentary film behind it) educating and bringing awareness to the problem of mass incarceration is both our short AND our long term goal.

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    A marked-up copy of one of the first drafts of "Caged." — critiques, typos, and all.

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    Signed Book

    Signed First edition of Chris Hedges' award-winning book, "War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning." Includes rewards $100 and below.

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Funding period

- (30 days)