The Exonerated’ tells story of inmates wrongly accused

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“The Exonerated,” by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, is presently showing at the SHSU Show Case Theatre at 8 p.m. every night until Oct. 15.

The play, directed by Professor Thomas Prior, is an interview-style play about six wrongfully convicted people who are sentenced to death row.

At the rehearsal, Prior assembled his students on stage for a pre-show talk. To get everyone geared up, they gathered around and put their hands in the middle and started to chant “Quack, quack, quack.” The actors and actresses broke out into laughter and then assumed their positions.

The lights went low, and the play began. All six people who were convicted told their story beginning with their lives before the conviction and then told what happened at the trial.

Prior said, “The students did a ton of research. We started with what I call ‘table work,’ where we sit down and talk about each of the peoples’ lives. We looked on the internet at each case study.”

The students even went as far as to visit the Wynne Farm Prison.

The play goes on tell what each person went through on death row. One of the men talks about how he was raped and how his brother died while he was in prison. Each person describes his or her own struggles of living on death row.

In the end, the convicted get exonerated by either a confession by someone else or new evidence that was found that was once overlooked.The characters go on to discuss life after death row and the tribulations of conforming back to society.

“The Exonerated” is Prior’s first play to direct here at Sam Houston.

“The experience was great. I had a good time working with such talented students,” said Prior.

Prior chose the production because, “I saw it performed at the Alley Theatre, and I just thought it was such a powerful piece.” He also added, “I would like the audience to be entertained but I’d like them to be aware of the judicial system’s flaws.”

Tickets are $8 and are available at the ticket office in the University Theatre Center. On Saturday, there will be a matinee performance at 2 p.m.