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"Barred from Life:" Dance and performance event explores tragedy of wrongful conviction
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – March 16, 2004– James Newsome was a victim of false identification and spent 15 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit; Delbert Tibbs spent time on death row before he was acquitted.
“Barred from Life” is a performance work that uses real life experiences of individuals like Newsome and Tibbs to bring home the tragic consequences of wrongful conviction.
Created and performed by David J. Popalisky, assistant professor of dance at SCU, in collaboration with Kathleen (Cookie) Ridolfi, director of the Northern California Innocence Project, “Barred from Life” illuminates the human experience of individuals convicted for crimes they did not commit.
“Barred From Life” performances are Wed., March 31, 2004 at 7 p.m. and Sun. April 4, 2004 at 8 p.m. in the Louis B. Mayer Theatre, at
“Barred from Life” addresses the complexity of wrongful conviction through a combination of media, including dance movement, video imagery, excerpts from interviews with exonerees, and an original score by True D. Rosaschi II.
To better understand the experiences of individuals who were wrongfully convicted, Popalisky interviewed people in Chicago and the Bay Area who had spent years in prison, some on death row, before being exonerated. “I needed to hear the exonerated men’s stories first hand,” said Popalisky. “Most of them had survived a special kind of hell.”
“Barred from Life” occurs within a confined set, symbolic of a prison cell, that embodies the restricted physical experience of these men. The score and video represent the mental states of the wrongfully accused throughout the various stages of their ordeal, and excerpts from the exoneree’s interviews connect audiences with the voices, faces, and eloquence of these men and their horrifying stories.
“David’s performance is an emotional commentary on an immensely important social issue - he melds poetry, media, and dance to portray the experiences of people forced into the nightmare of arrest and conviction for crimes they didn’t commit,” said Ridolfi. “I'm awed by his remarkable artistry. ‘Barred from Life’ is a powerful new story of the pain, despair and resilience of those who are wrongfully convicted.”
Delbert Tibbs, James Newsome, and local Bay Area exonerees will join Popalisky and Ridolfi in post-performance discussions.
The talk will focus on the flaws in the justice system, interrogation and prosecution procedural reforms, the role of artistic expression in enhancing public awareness of wrongful convictions, and how awareness can move the issue forward. Tibbs and Newsome will also speak with SCU students.
Popalisky earned a masters degree in fine arts in choreography from
“Barred from Life” was made possible by the support of the
Admission is free. Donations to benefit the work of the Northern California Innocence Project are gladly accepted. For more information, please contact the