Freedom Reads Founder & CEO Reginald Dwayne Betts performs FELON: An American Washi Tale. (Photo: Jonathan Sweeney)


Offering fresh perspectives, theater transforms experience.

Paper, perhaps surprisingly, is a key part of the prison experience. Paper gets you in and sometimes gets you free. Chasing paper on the front is the catalyst to cuffs for many; making papers—that is, parole—is the hope of freedom for others. FELON: An American Washi Tale is about re-imagining paper. A solo performance by Dwayne Betts weaves traditional theater, poetry, fine art, and Japanese paper making aesthetic principles into a meditation on his experiences of incarceration and his legal work to free friends that are still in prison. Directed by Elise Thoron, this performance unwraps the disturbing ways prison touches us all.

FELON has been performed in prisons, universities, and performing arts centers across the country. Working with groups like Literature to Life, Freedom Reads has also brought other performances to prisons across the nation, including The Latehomecomer, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and more.