By Alexandra Kesman
What constitutes cruel and unusual punishment? In ‘8×10‘, this powerful solo show brings the audience face-to-face with the reality of solitary confinement it’s ability to break the human spirit and drive a person mad. The show is meant to showcase the effects of extreme jail conditions and punishments. Where is the line between due punishment for committed crimes and torture?
In the dark and narrow basement of MOTR Pub, performer James Savage plays an inmate who was originally sentenced to five years for armed robbery but is now serving a life sentence in solitary confinement. His spirit is broken, his mind is racing, and he paces back and forth in the grooves created in the floor by the men who came before him. He’s let outside for one hour a day, with a sliver of sunlight, to exercise in a tiny chain link cage. How did he end up with an increased and solitary sentence? You’ll have to hear his story to find out, but I can tell you that the system of punishment for infractions within the prison system can have huge effects on mental state and future behavior while incarcerated.
James Savage captivates the audience with his raw anger, frustration, and shaky mental state after being held in ‘The Shu’ or Special Housing Unit. His emotions pivot quickly as he tells the tale of his sentence, his anger with the prison system that put him in this situation, and sheer joy when he shares memories of his wife and daughter, whom he hasn’t seen in 20 years. His performance is powerful and emotional. The staging of this show in the tiny basement below the bar gives it the perfect atmosphere to feel the walls closing. The hour-long show flew by as I became mesmerized with the performance and the strife this character was experiencing.
In the program, the audience is presented with some statistics regarding mass incarceration and the number of individuals serving out a sentence in solitary confinement at any given time and it’s staggering. The show succeeds in shedding light on the way that solitary confinement and the prison system can warp the human psyche.
Link to IndieGOGO: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/8×10-at-the-cincy-fringe#/
Alexandra Kesman has worked at non-profit organizations for over a decade and always enjoyed using innovative software and technology to help them succeed. Alexandra now is a certified Salesforce.com Administrator, WordPress Administrator, and Graphic Designer. Currently, Alexandra is consulting with both nonprofit and for-profit organizations to help simplify company processes through effective use of web-based and software technology for all levels of customer and audience engagement. Alexandra also produces the Improv Festival of Cincinnati and is a singer with the May Festival Chorus, and is a former producer of the Cincinnati Fringe Festival.