“In My Shoes” tells the story of rebuilding life after tragedy

The Dodd Center presents the performance piece "In My Shoes," performed by women who have spent time in the York Correctional Institution and The Ensemble of the Judy Dworkin Project. The show displayed the authentic truth of spending time in prison and the social stigma behind being convicted after reentering the community. (Olivia Stenger/Daily Campus)

Imagine being imprisoned for a crime, serving the sentence and then continuing to feel isolated as you try to put your life back together. "In My Shoes," a show performed by women who have spent time in the York Correctional Institution and The Ensemble of the Judy Dworkin Project, showed the authentic truth of spending time in prison and the aftermath upon reentering the community.

The show, presented by the Thomas J. Dodd Center, opened at the Student Union Theatre Tuesday evening.

 “In My Shoes” was written by Judy Dworin and directed by her and Kathy Borteck Gersten. Dance, music and poetry were blended to tell the story of the performers’ experiences in the prison system, their psychological journey from conviction to release and life afterwards.

“I was taken aback by the performance. It painted a tough picture about the life you have and lose when you go to prison,” said Armando Barquin, a second-semester accounting major. The JDPP is a non-profit arts organization based in Hartford founded in 1989 by Dworin. 

The organization visits schools, prisons and communities in order to inspire change and educate audiences on today’s social issues. Several of the stories told and performed at this event addressed issues surrounding incarceration and reintegration, including stories of loved ones dying in car accidents due to drunk driving, emotional turmoil derived from the imprisonment of a mother that forced a twelve-year-old to grow up without a parent, distress that leads to self harm and the feeling of being trapped in your own skin.

“The narratives were really graphically described. I didn’t expect it to be like that, it caught me off guard,” said Matt Connors, a second-semester economics major.

“It was a moving and accurate showing of what they go through,” Jennifer Reed, a resident of Willimantic, said.

At the conclusion of the performance, the members of JDPP shared their thoughts and perspectives about reintegrating into society and the stigma they collectively feel labeled by.

“This system has got to change and we are going to continue to make change happen,” Dworin said. 


Matthew Gilbert is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at matthew.gilbert@uconn.edu.