A three part series with Sister Helen Prejean

Sister Helen PrejeanSister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States, will give a talk titled, Dead Man Walking: The Journey Continues, at Saint Michael's College on Thursday, March 7, at 8 p.m. in the McCarthy Arts Center. Sponsored by the vanderHeyden Endowment for the Fine Arts, with additional support from the McCarthy Fund and the Society of St. Edmund, the talk is free and open to the public. Sister Prejean's talk is the first of a three-part Theater and Social Justice Series.

"Faculty Perspectives on the Death Penalty", the second part of the series, presents a talk and panel discussion on Tuesday, March 26, at 4 p.m., in Saint Edmund's Hall Farrell Room (#315). Professor Laurie Gagne, Director of the Edmundite Center for Peace and Justice, will speak on Catholic teachings on the Death Penalty, and then moderate a panel discussion with three colleagues who will share their perspectives: professor Robert Brenneman (Sociology), professor John Hughes, (Political Science), and professor Katherine Kirby, (Philosophy and Global Studies).

Part three of the series is the Saint Michael's College Theater Department spring production, the play, Dead Man Walking, directed by professor Peter Harrigan. The play will be presented Thursday, April 11; Friday, April 12; Saturday, April 13 and Thursday, April 18; Friday, April 19, Saturday, April 20, at 7 p.m. each evening in the McCarthy Arts Center.

image to match campus poster"Many plays fittingly encourage the audience to escape from the outside world, but others force us to examine it: "Dead Man Walking" is definitely the latter, Professor Peter Harrigan, director, said. "Sister Helen Prejean's visit will enhance the student actors' process as they struggle to understand and play these complex characters; but I hope that it will also inspire them, as artists and people, to be agents of positive change in the world," Harrigan said.

"Dead Man Walking," an intense, thought-provoking and moving drama, written by Tim Robbins, is based on Sister Helen Prejean's book about her experiences as a chaplain on death row. Rather than having the play produced professionally, Robbins offered it to schools throughout the United States to foster discussion about the death penalty. The play contains mature content and language.

About Sister Helen Prejean

Sister Helen Prejean sparked a national dialogue on the death penalty and has helped shape the Catholic Church's newly vigorous opposition to state executions.  While living and working with the poor in New Orleans, Sister Prejean was asked to correspond with a death row inmate Patrick Sonnier at Angola. She agreed and became his spiritual adviser. After witnessing his execution, she wrote, Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States. It became a movie, an opera and a play for high schools and colleges.

Since 1984, Sister Helen has divided her time between educating citizens about the death penalty and counseling individual death row prisoners.  She has accompanied six men to their deaths. This inspired her second book, The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions, which was released by Random House in 2004.

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