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University Theatre debuts "Dead Man Walking"

Feb. 2, 2006

KALAMAZOO--The Michigan debut of Tim Robbins' stage adaptation of "Dead Man Walking" will be presented Thursday, Feb. 9, through Sunday, Feb. 19, in York Arena Theatre at Western Michigan University.

Performances of "Dead Man Walking" are at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 9-11 and 16-18, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19. Seating is by general admission. An opening night reception sponsored by Tiffany's Wine and Spirit Shop will take place after the Thursday, Feb. 9, performance and discussion.

Sixty prison inmates were executed last year in the United States. The stories of men and women like these prisoners received perhaps their finest artistic treatment in the Academy Award-winning film "Dead Man Walking." Screenwriter and director Robbins has adapted his screenplay for the stage.

"Dead Man Walking" tells the story of Sister Helen Prejean and death row inmate Matthew Poncelet. First acquainted through correspondence, Prejean becomes his confidant and aids his appeals for clemency. This role places her in contact with the families of Poncelet and his victims, and uncovers a trove of emotion and conflicting opinions. The story is remarkable for its raw yet balanced presentation of a polarizing issue.

University Theatre's production of "Dead Man Walking" is by special arrangement with Tim Robbins and the Dead Man Walking School Theatre Project. Each performance will be followed by a public discussion of the play's content. These discussions will be led by representatives of the Kalamazoo Trial Lawyers Association, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Kalamazoo, the Committee of Survivors of Violence, the WMU Criminal Justice Program, the WMU Department of Sociology, and the Kalamazoo County Prosecutor's Office. Representatives of the School Theatre Project will travel from New Orleans to attend the opening performance of the play.

As part of the rehearsal process, the cast is performing for inmates at the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility in Jackson, Mich.

D. Terry Williams, WMU professor of theatre, directs the University Theatre production of "Dead Man Walking." The cast includes WMU seniors Liz Emmerling, Catherine Dildilian and Jaudon Robinson; juniors Hal Bates Jr., Bill Burkhardt, Katie Dickinson, Kristen Greer, Phil Korth, Evan Lipkin and Mike Todd, and sophomores Amanda Cowper, Christopher Nuccio, and Ashleigh Twining. The production staff includes Emily Krajewski, stage manager, and Aaron Atherton, lighting designer.

Tickets for "Dead Man Walking" range from $16 to $7 and may be purchased by calling (269) 387-6222 or visiting the University Theatre Ticket Office weekdays noon to 5 p.m. Box offices at Miller Auditorium and the Epic Center also sell tickets to University Theatre productions.

The 2005-06 University Theatre season is made possible through a partnership with the Millennium Restaurant Group.

Media contact: Patrick Donnelly, (269) 387-6222, patrick.donnelly@wmich.edu

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