The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater at Princeton University will present a workshop performance of Inside/Out, a new documentary play by senior Tadesh Inagaki and directed by faculty member R. N. Sandberg on May 9 at 8:00 p.m., and May 10 and 11 at 4:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. in the Marie and Edward Matthews ’53 Acting Studio at 185 Nassau St. in Princeton.
Based on interviews with men in the process of re-entering society after incarceration, Inside/Out is a portrait of individuals struggling to escape the prison world and rediscover life “on the outside.” In this one-man show, Inagaki will read and present new, modified, and rearranged material at each performance. All performances are followed by a discussion with the audience to further the development of the piece.
Inagaki is a senior majoring in economics, though his biggest passion is for theatre, in which he is pursuing a certificate.
“I decided to do this project after gaining some insight into the prison system through my mother, who is an active volunteer/mentor at a re-entry center near her home,” Inagaki explains. “During a vacation, I visited the re-entry center a number of times with my mom and met many of the center’s inmates. It was at that point that I decided I was interested in creating a thesis that might help others have the kind of face-to-face, humanizing experience with prisoners that I had at the re-entry center.”
Inagaki spent two breaks during this academic year at the re-entry center and the surrounding area interviewing men who were in the process of completing or had recently completed the re-entry center program. The content of these interviews forms the text included in Inside/Out. “I will be experimenting with various structures, ideas, characters, and forms over the course of the five performances,” notes the playwright, “Using the workshop as a chance to examine the shape of the play.”
Sandberg, who will be directing the workshop, is a Lecturer in Theatre in the Lewis Center for the Arts, and has been teaching playwriting, acting, and dramatic literature at Princeton since 1995. “In my playwriting class,” notes Sandberg, “I saw that Tadesh not only had talent as a writer but that he had great compassion for creating characters who were struggling to get their lives back on track. Tadesh is working very much in the spirit of writer/performer Anna Deavere Smith, creating documentary theater that has social resonance, but foremost is letting us get to know the fascinating people he’s encountered.”
Inagaki has been an active member of Princeton’s theater community having appeared in a diverse range of roles in Lewis Center productions including Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, the Sondheim musical Sunday in the Park with George, Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, and Shakespeare’s The Tempest in which he performed the role of Prospero and operated marionettes used in conjunction with the actors.
“I first saw Tadesh at the beginning of his freshman year as a powerful, fiery Hotspur in Henry IV,” explains Sandberg. “Since then, he’s confirmed his ability to play a wide variety of gripping characters. I’m excited to work with him to bring to life the range of characters in Inside/Out.”
Sandberg’s own plays have been seen in Europe, Asia, Latin America and throughout the U.S. His newest play Roundelay premiered at Passage Theatre in 2013. In addition to his playwriting, Sandberg has directed Greek tragedy, comic opera, Brecht, Chekhov and contemporary plays by writers as different as Lewis Black, Anna Deavere Smith and Wendy Wasserstein.
Workshop performances of Inside/Out are free and open to the public; no reservations are required.