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ITHACA, NY – The ReEntry Theatre Program is once again underway at Civic Ensemble. Following the success of last year’s program, with a final performance to a sold-out house at the Hangar Theatre, ReEntry returns for a second year. The 2016 iteration is an opportunity for participants, who have been incarcerated at some point in their lives, to collaborate and create theatre over an eight-week span. The program gives participants an opportunity to gain skills in writing, collaboration, theatrical expression, and leadership.

New this year is Civic Ensemble’s engagement with the Ultimate ReEntry Opportunity (URO), a collective impact process in Tompkins County coordinated by the Multicultural Resource Center. The URO was established in 2014 as a partnership movement between private and public sectors to transform and optimize the process of reentry and reduce the risk of rearrest and reincarceration. Fabina B. Colon, Director of the Multicultural Resource Center, notes, “Everyone should feel welcome and supported and experience safety and security in our communities.

Antonio Bentley, participant. (Provided photo.)

This is not the reality for people entering the community from jail or prison; therefore, we must work collectively to remove the systemic barriers to access, equity, and inclusion. This is why the URO process is important; it provides a common table where voices and efforts from across sectors in our communities are unified and can reimagine a system that provides safety and security for everyone.”

The participants in the program this year are Antonio Bentley, Briana Milton, Christopher Glenn Hartman, Jason Brown, Lisa Stevens, Norman Hodge, Anthony Sidle, and Dylan Spano. Through theatre games, group activities, storytelling, and playwriting exercises, they will write short plays inspired by their own experiences and the world around them. This year the process also includes two mentors, Abdullah Khalil Bey and Terrell M. Dickson, who completed the ReEntry Theatre Program last year.

Civic Ensemble artists Godfrey L. Simmons, Jr., and Sarah K. Chalmers are facilitating the work with support from dramaturg Lucy Walker, company manager Hana Mastrogiacomo, volunteer coordinator Joan Friedman, and many gracious volunteers from the community.

Chris Hartman, participant. (Provided photo.)

The plays will be presented on Friday, March 25 and Saturday, March 26 at 7:30 pm at the Hangar Theatre. The shows are open to the public and free of charge. Ticket reservations can be made at The program is funded in part by a grant from the Cornell Public Service Center Community Partnership Board, donations from individual supporters of the program, and the Multicultural Resource Center.

Civic Ensemble is a non-profit theatre company serving Ithaca and Tompkins County that produces new plays by or about women and people of color, re-imaginings of classics, and community-based plays that explore and explode the social, political, and cultural issues of our time. Through the production of plays, after-school and in-school education programs for young people, and civic engagement programs with Ithaca community members, the company works to bring audiences of different races, classes, and experiences together in a public forum on the American experiment.

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Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.