Dead Man Walking
by Tim Robbins
Oct 21 - Nov 7, 2004
The first stage performance of the play, inspired by the same book as the award-winning movie, was part of a year-long examination of the death penalty by the NDNU School of Arts and Humanities Center for Social Justice.
Thank you to everyone who helped make this special project such a fantastic success!
Please see Dead Man Walking School Theatre Project website for more information on the Death Penalty Discource project.
Dead Man Walking Slideshow
Press for Dead Man Walking
"...the large cast features primarily students along with a few faculty and community members and even the university president, Dr. John B. Oblak as Chaplain Farley. As a student production... the central characters are noteworthy: Katherine Hill as Sister Prejean and Justin Basl as Matthew Poncelet, the convict. Both are outstanding. [The] production not only succeeds on the dramatic and academic levels but also fulfills its mission to provoke thought and discussion about the death penalty. " - Aisle Say review by Judy Richter
"Director Michael B. Elkins, chair of NDNU's Theatre Arts Department, does a remarkable traffic job of maneuvering the large cast about the theater's wide stage, helped immeasurably by R. Dutch Fritz's stark metallic settings with projected moving visuals. ... But the prizes go to amazing [Katherine] Hill, who recreates the compassionate and soul-searching Sister Helen to a fault, and [Justin] Basl [as convicted killer Matthew Poncelet], who slowly gains the audience's sympathy as Prejean persuades him to accept the blame and confront the guilt that is haunting him before he is forced to meet his maker. [Jeff ] Young also puts in a strong performance as Poncelet's appeal lawyer, as does [Christopher] Taylor as the aggrieved ... father." - Alameda Times-Star review
"Eyes were opened Friday night. On a blue-lit stage, flanked by two screens that alternately showed prison bars and photos of executed prisoners, the theater audience saw the dehumanizing effect of capital punishment and the ultimate repentance of a death row inmate at the premiere of the play, Dead Man Walking." - San Mateo County Times review.
The first fully staged production of Dead Man Walking premiered at Notre Dame de Namur University Theatre. Based on the book, Dead Man Walking by Sr. Helen Prejean CSJ, the play was written by Academy Award winning actor/director Tim Robbins, and was directed by NDNU Theatre Department Chair Michael Elkins.
The preview performance was on October 21, 2004, followed by an opening night Gala Reception on October 22. This October 22 performance featured a symposium with Sr. Helen Prejean and Mike Farrell. Other performances were on October 23, 24, 28, 29, 30, 31, and November 5, and 6.
"This wonderful event, along with NDNU's year-long investigation of the death penalty, began with a visit to campus in 2002 by Sister Helen. Over the many subsequent months, this project was nurtured by the efforts of Tim Robbins, Sr. Helen, and our dedicated faculty. We imagined a powerful event and through the considerable contributions of many, we are privilege to present this outstanding premiere," says Lucille Sansing, Provost of Notre Dame de Namur University.
This important play was part of a year long examination of the death penalty by the NDNU School of Arts and Humanities Center for Social Justice and was produced by special arrangement with Tim Robbins and the DEAD MAN WALKING SCHOOL THEATRE PROJECT.
Special thanks to NDNU Alum, Matthew B. Stannard, staff reporter for the SF Chronicle, for moderating a very interesting Gala Night panel discussion with Mike Farrell, Sr. Helen Prejean, and Director Michael B. Elkins.