*The women of Life Without Parole are real women. This is their story.
At a parole hearing at the California Institution for Women in Chino in 1999, Helen Broker must fight to regain her freedom. She’s been jailed for killing the abusive husband who beat her, threatened to rape her daughter, and who pointed a pistol at her.
She’s a member of a prison support group, CWAV (Convicted Women Against Violence). Her fellow group members are all women who have killed the husbands or boyfriends who beat them. According to the criminal justice system, they’re all guilty of second degree murder. But were they just defending themselves against perpetrators of domestic violence?
Life Without Parole is the story of Helen Broker and her fellow inmates who have all trod down this heartbreaking path. Where is justice for them?
Playwright Warren John Doody based his narrative on the research of the late Dr. Elizabeth Dermody Leonard, who interviewed over forty incarcerated women in the course of her research. Much of the play’s text consists of verbatim transcriptions of the women’s stories. Some scenes are re-enactments of actual events.
Helen Broker has had to survive pain and indignities beyond normal human endurance. Will the justice system ultimately display compassion, and free her to be re-united with her family?
Life Without Parole premiered in New York at Manhattan Repertory in 2014, and was subsequently invited to participate in the New York Fringe Festival. The West Coast premiere production opens during October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Warren John Doody is a professor and playwright-in-residence at Vanguard University.
Susan K. Berkompas directs. She directed, produced or acted in over 100 productions. She is the founding Artistic Producing Director of the 11-year-old American Coast Theater Company, based in Orange County. She trained at Oxford and is an alumnus of Kennedy Center Directors Lab West.
Associate Producing Artistic Directors: James and Christi McHale.
Ms. Berkompas’ cast for Life Without Parole includes (in alphabetical order): Virginia Creigh Brown, Lola Kelly, Maria Mayenzet, Brock Milhorn, Cyntia Moreno, Mark Piatelli, Vivian Vanderwerd and Amanda Zarr.
Life Without Parole is produced in part by the Elizabeth Dermody Leonard Memorial Fund and the Global Center for Women and Justice, an organization that exists to advance the global status of women through research, education, advocacy, collaboration and hope and promotes gender reconciliation and the inherent dignity of all persons.
Take a look at a video excerpt of the play below.