Production photos by Lindsay Marcy. Story circle, workshop, reading, rehearsal photos by Wonderlust. ensemble.
Who is the Incarceration community?
No community is more ignored or misunderstand than one designed to be separate from you.
- The United States has 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of the world’s prisoners.
- As of February 2016, the prison population had risen by 150% in the past 25 years.
- The United States is the world’s leader in incarceration with 2.2 million people currently in the nation’s prisons and jails — a 500% increase over the last forty years.
- Native Americans are imprisoned at a rate over 12 times, African Americans over 10 times, and Hispanics 4 ½ times as much as Whites in Minnesota.
- 77% of female prisoners in Minnesota are mothers to young children
- 1 in 6 Minnesota youth has a parent incarcerated.
This community includes an unexpectedly wide circle of people connected by the Minnesota incarceration system, including the formerly incarcerated, friends and family of the incarcerated, social workers and Department of Corrections workers, facility staff and volunteers, advocates, and policymakers.
Art We’ve Made
The Labyrinth & the Minotaur: The Incarceration Play Project was performed May 13-22, 2022 at Mixed Blood Theater with a cast of incarceration community members and professional artists. This world premier play is based on the true stories Wonderlust gathered from more than 230 diverse stakeholders in the Minnesota Corrections system—from current and past inmates to corrections officers, prosecutors, public defenders, probation officers, policymakers, administrators, people who provide re-entry support, and families of those who have been incarcerated.
Once upon a time,
A monster was born, and we built a maze to lock it away.
But its cries from deep underground disturbed our sleep…
This epic new play dramatically reimagines the ancient myth of Theseus and his quest to kill the Minotaur, a half-man, half-beast trapped in a maze. The play layers stories from people who have spent their lives working and living inside a modern-day labyrinth—the Minnesota incarceration system, a place where lawyers, officers, educators, nurses and people who have broken laws and their families are trapped in a civilization all its own.
The Labyrinth & the Minotaur Comic book series
Press coverage for The Labyrinth & The Minotaur
How a New Play Centers the Stories of Minnesota’s Prisoners
by Lianna Matt McLeron, MSP Magazine
New Play Draws on Experiences of People Involved in Prison System
by Nina Moini, MPRNews
Drama Traces the Labyrinth of Incarceration
by Anne Murphy, My Villager
Playwright Alan Berks was interviewed on ‘N the Grill Pit. You can watch the interview here.
In ‘The Labyrinth and the Minotaur,’ producers lift up voices from Minnesota’s incarceration system
by Sheila Regan, MINNPOST
Lessons in Isolation videos
Members of THE INCARCERATION PLAY PROJECT cast share some of what they’ve learning about living in isolation.
This cast includes people who were formerly incarcerated, current and former corrections officers, family members, administrators at the Department of Corrections, and outside advocates.
More about the project
The Labyrinth and The Minotaur layers stories from people who have spent their lives working and living inside the Minnesota incarceration system onto an epic, ancient myth to illuminate the battle we all need to face around who we punish and why, and how we rehabilitate and reintegrate them into our society.
INCARCERATION PLAY PROJECT REHEARSAL, 2020
To guarantee a cross-section of voices from within the system are represented, Wonderlust visited the women’s correctional facility in Shakopee, the men’s facility in Stillwater, Ramsey County Workhouse, and the recently shuttered juvenile facility, Boy’s Totem Town. We also held story circles with the Ramsey County Public Defenders, Prosecutors, and the employees at the Minnesota Department of Corrections, Corrections Officers at Oak Park Heights, as well as many community support groups like Power of People (POP) Institute, MN Prison Doula Project, Voices for Racial Justice, Legal Rights Center, and criminal justice reform groups like Second Chance Coalition, We Are All Criminals and many more.
Wonderlust has been working with the incarceration community and developing the Incarceration Play Project since 2018.
Written by Alan Berks in collaboration with Carlyle Brown from the words of the incarceration community of Minnesota, directed by Leah Cooper, with choreography and puppetry by Masanari Kawahara, featuring original music by Becky Dale and Andrea Reynolds (in collaboration with the Voices of Hope inmate choir at Shakopee), light design by Mike Grogan, props by Masanari Kawahara, costume design by Andrea Gross, and set design and technical direction by Zeb Hults. Assistant Direction by Sophie Javna. Stage Management by Kari Olk and Gabriel Peñalosa-Hernandez.
Performed by a cast of professional artists and members of the Incarceration Community.