SUNY Potsdam Hosts Performance of 'Mariposa and the Saint' on Sept. 28

Searing Play about Solitary Confinement to be Presented at SUNY Potsdam, Followed by Post-Show Workshop

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SUNY Potsdam will present a performance of “Mariposa & The Saint” on Thursday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center, followed by a post-show workshop. All events are free.

POTSDAM, NY (09/14/2017) (readMedia)-- Imagine being locked alone in a small room, for weeks on end (or even months or years!). Your only lifeline comes in the form of pieces of paper -- letters to and from a friend on the outside.

Now, a two-person play crafted from just such letters, sent across prison walls, will come to SUNY Potsdam.

"Mariposa & the Saint," a play created by the artist and activist Julia Steele Allen and Sara Fonseca, an inmate sentenced to solitary confinement, will be presented on Thursday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. in SUNY Potsdam's Performing Arts Center. This performance is free, and the public is invited to attend.

Julia Steele Allen and Sara Fonseca (whose nickname is Mariposa) first met in 2005 when Allen was a volunteer with the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, and have stayed in contact ever since. In 2012, when Fonseca was given a 15-month solitary confinement term, they decided to work on a creative project together, through letters.

In June 2013, Allen assembled the first script, using only Fonseca's words. From that time on, the script has been evolving, with Fonseca sending feedback and new ideas, and Allen getting input from audiences and collaborators, sending it in for Fonseca to consider and respond to. Allen portrays Fonseca in the play, with another actor playing the prison guard.

The New Yorker said that the play "throws the definition of 'inhumane' into relief."

Immediately following the performance, there will be a post-show workshop and panel discussion with Tyrrell Muhammad and Scott Paltrowitz, both of the Correctional Association of New York.

Muhammad spent 26 years and 11 months in New York state prisons, 7 of those years in solitary confinement. He earned his bachelor's degree from Syracuse University and his master's degree from the New York Theological Seminary, and in addition to his work with the Correctional Association's Prison Visiting Project, he is a chief consultant for Force One International Security, and is committed to helping formerly incarcerated men and women in his community find gainful employment. Paltrowitz is the associate director of the CA's Prison Visiting Project and is a member of the New York Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement.

"Mariposa & The Saint" and the post-show workshop are presented in partnership with the Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement and the North Country chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice.

This event is sponsored by SUNY Potsdam's Center for Diversity, the Women's and Gender Studies Program, the Diversity and Inclusion Action Coalition, SUNY Potsdam's School of Arts and Sciences, the Office of Campus Life, and the departments of sociology, criminal justice, theatre and dance, and English and communications.

For more information about upcoming events at SUNY Potsdam, please visit

Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America's first 50 colleges -- and the oldest institution within SUNY. Now in its third century, SUNY Potsdam is distinguished by a legacy of pioneering programs and educational excellence. The College currently enrolls approximately 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its challenging liberal arts and sciences core, distinction in teacher training and culture of creativity. To learn more, visit