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Theatre Department Presents "The Exonerated"

September 12, 2007

Category: Academics, Events, Music, Theatre Arts


What if you were convicted of a crime you did not commit then later exonerated before your scheduled execution for that crime?  It could happen, did happen, and does happen.

The Catawba College Theatre Arts Department's production of "The Exonerated" is a play based on the true stories of six individuals whose lives were irrevocably changed when they were convicted of crimes they did not commit. The play, directed by Theatre Arts Professor Christopher Zink, will be performed at 6:55 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 25 and 26 and at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Sept. 27-29, in Hedrick Theatre on campus.

Playwrights Jessica Blank and Erik Jenson traveled across the nation, interviewing people who, due to new evidence, were exonerated prior to execution. The play is a compilation of these transcripts, court records and testimony. Each wrongful conviction is described in intimate and personal terms and collectively, the examples convey the limitations and pitfalls of the American judicial system. One stark example is that of Sunny Jacobs who lost 16 years of her life after she was convicted and sentenced to death for a murder she did not commit.

Cast members include freshman Matthew Drake of Bradenton, Fla., as Robert E. Hayes; junior Matthew Jamison of Salisbury as David; senior Candace Neal of Waxhaw as Sunny Jacobs; sophomore Tony Mullins of Charlotte as Delbert, who serves as a guide or a narrator throughout the production; sophomore Yolanda McClure of Eden as Georgia Hayes; senior Jeremy Kinser of Matthews as male ensemble 1; senior Justin Johnson of Fuquay-Varina as Gary Ganger; junior Aaron Ganas of Milwaukee, Wis., as male ensemble 2; junior Nicole Durant of Fairview as Sue, Sandra and a lawyer in ensemble 2; and senior Jordan Danz of Mequon, Wis., as Kerry.

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Original Music
by Jesse Hunter,
Catawba Student
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Crew members include senior Tiffany Hogan of High Point, assistant director; senior Jonathan Jordan of Virginia Beach, Va., technical director; junior Diana Hagler of Charlotte, stage manager; sophomore Brittany Bland of Alpharetta, Ga., assistant stage manager; senior Will Randall of Tifton, Ga., lighting designer; junior Sara Johnson of Charlotte, hair and makeup designer; and junior Nicole Bowles of Monroe, costume designer. Junior Jesse Hunter of Powder Springs, Ga., has written an original soundscape for the production and will play live during the performance, underscoring action on the stage.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for non-Catawba students and senior citizens, with group rates available. Contact the Catawba College Theatre Box Office at (704) 637-4481. Due to graphic language, "The Exonerated" is not suggested for children.

Original Soundscape by Catawba Student Jesse Hunter
Jesse Hunter is a junior theatre arts performance major.  He was raised in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.  An actor and musician, Jesse has an interest in roots music and meddles in the styles of country blues, old time and gypsy jazz.  He has previously composed music for Catawba's productions of "The Pillowman" and "Death and the Ploughman," and "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" for the Scioto Society in Chilicothe, Ohio.  His musical influences include John Fahey, Dock Boggs, Sonic Youth, and the French composers Claude Bolling, Oliver Messiaen. ;


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