Folded hands, drum and plaster mask, Reentry Theater of Harlem, 2021

Mask-Making Performance


Thursday, July 25, 2024, 11:00 am

In conjunction with Welcome Home

In this performance, members from the Reentry Theater of Harlem will engage in a collective mask-making ritual. Covering one another’s faces with plaster strips, psychological injuries, scars and wounds left by mass-incarceration and pervasive persecution will be acknowledged, covered, and eventually cured. The resulting face masks embody accumulated layers of stigma and shame: a defensive and false face between the traumatized individual and the outside world. Making this mask material and concrete is a prerequisite for beginning to tear it asunder: a caring ritual for return, poised to redress the numerous rituals of violence that have eviscerated people from their dignity and humanity.

The Reentry Theater of Harlem (RTH) is an avant-garde theater by and for people who have lived experience in the U.S. criminal legal system. RTH utilizes theatrical rites of passage to confront and overcome the shame, stigma, and trauma of incarceration, empowering people’s transition from prison back to society.