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of people held in isolation, as well as

Angels in America at a time when gay

family members, prison officials, and

men were marginalized by the culture

others affected by life “inside the box.”

and dying in droves of AIDS. Architect

Shourd wove these stories into a play,

Maya Lin designed a black granite wall

The Box, that debuted in San Francisco

etched with the names of more than

this past June.

58,000 Americans who died in the Vietnam War. Such examples illustrate

Describing the piece as

how art can distill, even transcend, a

“transformational theater,” Shourd

crisis, in whatever form it takes. Two

wanted to explore what you would do

Berkeley alumni have created new works

if you had nothing left to lose. The Box

— one driven by a personal crisis and the

tracks its nine characters as they journey

other by an environmental one — that

from racist to revolutionary, from tough

strive to turn something negative into

guy to suicide victim, from teacher to lost

something positive.

soul, and from father to friend.


While The Box criticizes the alleged overuse and horrific conditions of solitary confinement in the United States, it has also helped Shourd

While hiking in Iran in 2009, journalist

understand her own trauma, which,

Sarah Shourd ’03 (pictured above) was

she says, threatened her sanity, dignity,

captured by the Iranian government

and future.

and imprisoned in solitary confinement for 410 days. Since her release, she has

“This project has propelled me into

traveled around the country sharing her

the next stage of my life,” Shourd says.

experiences and interviewing dozens

“It’s a small attempt to give back what’s been given to me.”


The Promise of Berkeley


Fall 2016

Promise of Berkeley Fall 2016