Caged: Life. Beyond. Bars.

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Above Photo: From Caged

28 maximum-security inmates, guided by Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Chris Hedges, write a play on horrors of mass incarceration.

Discover what happens when a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist dares 28 inmates to collaboratively write a play on the horrors of mass incarceration.

Why have we turned a blind eye to mass modern slavery?


Chris Hedges has taught in America’s most elite universities, including Princeton, Columbia, and New York University.

It was a class at a Maximum Security Prison, however, where he found “more brilliance, literacy, passion, wisdom and integrity… than in any other classroom…”

In Hedges’ class, 28 men collaboratively wrote a play in which the drama of their lives, so often portrayed by others, is finally told in their own words.

Inspired by their exceptional talent, Hedges promised that he’d share their voices with the world and—somehow, someday—mount the play.

Now, over three years later, Hedges, along with, Boris Franklin, the only writer who has been released from prison to date, are planning to premiere “CAGED” at The Passage Theatre in Trenton, NJ, during their Spring 2018 season.7da042d7394e34bc32d3fee55401fd03_original

Chris Hedges and Boris Franklin, the only inmate to be released, rewrite scenes from the play


If you haven’t had an immediate family member, a relative or a friend who has been swallowed up by the U.S. prison system, more than likely, you will. The numbers, well publicized by now, bare this out.

Since 1980, the rate of incarceration in the U.S. has gone up 800%. What this means in terms of today is that 1 in 3 young people under the age of 23 will be going to jail.

Couple those stats with the financial juggernaut of privatizing prisons and there is little doubt that human beings have become a commodity.

“CAGED” offers a unique perspective about mass incarceration. We view it from the inside out and hear the voices of the imprisoned, the forgotten, the lost and the damned. They speak of a system that is harvesting human beings for profit but they also press the real need to heal and reform the system.

With your help, we will be able to give the material the production it deserves.


Our current political forces are looking to roll back any and all progress in stopping mass incarceration, making projects like “CAGED” critical education and resistance tools for the general public.

“CAGED” (and the documentary film about it) strives to become a mechanism that can inspire, instigate and can provide both healing and reform inside and outside of the prison cell.ac91e73bf37e3cfaadfca1fded40414e_original

Filmmaker Michael Nigro has been documenting the 3-year-process in trying to mount this incredible play for his film “Uncaged.”


CHRIS HEDGES: Princeton. Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and the author of several New York Times bestsellers, including Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, which he wrote with the cartoonist Joe Saco. He teaches in prisons in New Jersey.

BORIS FRANKLIN: New Brunswick. 11 years in prison. Released in May 2015 at age 42. Father of Four. Assistant director of the New Directions program for prisoners. Currently a full-time student at Rutgers University.

EUNICE WONG: Princeton. Trained at the Juilliard School Drama Division received the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actress, a Barrymore Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress, and a member of Actors’ Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA.


PASSAGE THEATRE: Passage is an award-winning professional theatre developing and producing primarily new plays that raise the visibility of under-represented voices within our communities. For more on PASSAGE.

MICHAEL NIGRO: (Filmmaker) Michael Nigro is an award-winning filmmaker, six-time Emmy-nominated writer-director and multi-media journalist based in Brooklyn, New York. More on his documentary UNCAGED.aeb1fb0a68229918e2be92ea56f06a50_original

Boris Franklin, the only inmate to be released, reads the dedication of the play (see below) for the Documentary “Uncaged.”


Risks and challenges

“CAGED” has the potential to inspire, to change a system driven by greed, to be at the forefront of creating an educated resistance against the harvesting human beings for profit.

If our desired full-scale production does not come to fruition through our Kickstarter campaign, our fallback plan is to continue on, certainly, but with a much smaller reach, which, sadly, means more people are incarcerated, more families and communities are ripped apart.

With projects like CAGED (and the documentary film behind it) educating and bringing awareness to the problem of mass incarceration is both our short AND our long term goal.

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  • Jo Hayward-haines

    Bravo for finding creative ways to bring healing to this greed-infected culture, Chris and others.