In 2002, director Joe De Francisco produced a single performance of the play John Brown’s Body at San Quentin, after nearly three years of rehearsals under extremely difficult conditions. The performance entered legend status. (I am sad to say that I heard about the performance at the time and had no idea what a powerful and historic moment I could have experienced firsthand. I still regret it.) In 2013, Joe released the moving documentary John Brown’s Body at San Quentin Prison to much acclaim. He has now made available for free the film of the entire original performance. Both the documentary about the play and the play itself are so worth watching. You can find both on his website along with a study guide.
Four out of the nine cast members are alums of the creative writing class: J.B. Wells, Larry Miller, Ronin Holmes, and Noble Butler. JB and Noble were both present at our first Brothers in Pen Reunion last October. Ronin, I hear, is at Solano where he continues to perform Shakespeare and, I hope, write stories, and I’d love to hear from Larry Miller again, who had poetry in our very first anthology. Larry?